Navy chief Sunil Lanba warns China against deployment of warships

Admiral Lanba's statement was provoked by a calculated disclosure by Pakistani naval officials to The Express Tribune (Nov 25, 2016) that Chinese naval ships would be deployed at the Gwadar Sea Port to safeguard the port and trade under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Navy chief Sunil Lanba warns China against deployment of warships



Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba has advised China to resist the temptation of triggering tension in South Asia through a deployment of warships in the Arabian Sea. At a select media briefing, the Navy chief said that although New Delhi had no plan to disrupt Beijing’s trade route, it would do so if China threatens India’s security.
He disclosed that India was closely monitoring movements of Chinese warships and submarines in the “strategic” Indian Ocean Region (IOR). He further advised China not to provoke India to take military action, saying that New Delhi would have to send warships to the Arabian Sea if China made such a move.


Admiral Lanba's statement was provoked by a calculated disclosure by Pakistani naval officials to The Express Tribune (Nov 25, 2016) that Chinese naval ships would be deployed at the Gwadar Sea Port to safeguard the port and trade under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Pakistani newspaper also reported quoting those officials that a special squadron of four to six ships would be deployed, comprising of both Chinese and Pakistani navies. The objective of deployment of this combined naval force, according to these officials, is the protection of Gwadar Port, which is designated as a defense entity, as also ensuring the security of maritime trade emanating from Pakistan which will have Chinese interests. The Arabian Sea to the African coast, and of course, the Gulf would be its area of operation.

The disclosure caught the eyes of the Indian government, which asked its armed forces to evaluate the threat and prepare a suitable response. It was in line with this policy that Admiral Lanba said that India was confident of prevailing over China in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. He pointed out that it’s not difficult for Indian Navy to track the movements of Chinese vessels lurking in the IOR.

“Chinese submarines usually come on 90-day deployments to the IOR, with an Operational Turn-Around (OTR) at Karachi after 45 days or so. But they have to surface while crossing the Malacca, Sunda or Lombox Straits since the waters there are not deep enough,” explained the Indian Navy chief.  “We keep a close eye on Chinese warships and submarines, including nuclear ones, and constantly monitor their movements in the IOR. We have the capabilities, assets, and plans in place to tackle any threat or challenge,” stressed Admiral Lanba.

He said he had informed China that India had no plan to turn the competition in the IOR into “a conflict”. At the same time, he said Beijing should appreciate that India could not lower its guard in its own strategic backyard. “The Indian Navy recognizes the Chinese flag will go where the trade is,” added the Navy chief.

In view of the growing collaboration between Chinese and Pakistani navies, Admiral Lanba called for a powerful three-dimensional blue-water Navy mainly to guard the country's interests from the Persian Gulf to the Strait of Malacca and beyond. Otherwise, according to the Navy chief, it will be difficult for India to counter China’s deep inroads into the IOR. India is fully prepared to protect its daily transit of sea trade worth USD 2 billion and sprawling offshore assets, he said.

India has 138 warships, including one aircraft carrier, 48 major warships and 14 submarines, and 235 aircraft and helicopters and plans to acquire 212 warships and 458 aircraft for its Navy by 2027. Admiral Lanba said about USD 50 billion has been sanctioned for constructing 36 warships, six conventional and two nuclear submarines. Currently, 40,000-tonne carrier ‘INS Vikrant’, seven ‘Shivalik’ follow-on stealth frigates, four Visakhapatnam-class missile destroyers, six Scorpene submarines and two nuclear submarines (SSBNs) are under construction.

Further, India has decided to build six stealth conventional submarines with foreign collaboration. The initial groundwork for building 65,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier ‘INS Vishal’ is also in progress. There are plans apace to construct six nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) at Vizag and to purchase four Grigorovich-class frigates from Russia in the coming months to boost Indian Navy's strength.

“Even today, the Navy has over 40 warships, four submarines and 12 aircraft deployed in waters around the Indian peninsula and island territories. We are capable and ready to safeguard our national maritime interests anytime, anywhere, every time,” said Admiral Lanba. . Beijing considers the Pakistani port as the gateway to the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.