The Indian navy has deployed its warship Indian Naval Ship (INS) Shardul for two months in the South Indian Ocean to provide surveillance support in the region. This move has been made keeping in mind India’s national objective of ensuring a safe and secure regional environment to allow unobstructed social and economic development in India as well as in the Indian Ocean Region.
In its initial phase of deployment, the warship carried out joint Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surveillance of Mauritius from 8-26 March 2017 in close coordination with the National Coast Guard of Mauritius. After successful completion of the Mauritius surveillance project, the warship entered the EEZ of Seychelles on 27 March 2017 to initiate the phase I of EEZ surveillance of Seychelles.
Led by Commander Rohit Mishra, the warship entered Port Victoria in Seychelles on 28 March 2017, following which a coordination meeting was held between the officials from INS Shardul and Seychelles Coast Guard at the Coast Guard headquarters. The meeting led to the framing of a surveillance area and communication plan. The warship commenced phase II of the EEZ surveillance on 1 April 2017.
The surveillance was mainly aimed to deter illegal fishing and drug trafficking and to ensure safe waters for the transit of mercantile traffic. The warship will enter Port Victoria on 6 April 2017 to assess the progress of the plan. The mission debrief would be attended by the High Commissioner of India to Seychelles, Senior Officials from SPDF along with the Seychelles Coast Guard. The warship will then set off for phase III of the surveillance plan on 17 April before returning to India on 17 April.
The Indian navy has been deploying warships to the region bi-annually since 2009, to assist in the patrolling of the vast EEZ of the country based on request by host nations. It is a Landing Ship Tank of the Indian Navy whose primary role is to transport troops, vehicles and armaments. Its role also includes fulfilling all objectives of an amphibious operation that includes landing of combat equipment and personnel to an Amphibious Objective Area.
The warship has the capability to launch and recover Marine Commandos through the sea as well as by air, through helicopters. Aside from this, the ship can also act as a ‘Hospital Ship’ with facilities provided in containerised form as well as a ‘Fleet Tanker’ for limited missions. On a general basis, the ship is deployed with the First Training Squadron and is responsible for the ab-initio sea training of young Indian naval officers.