In the backdrop of ongoing global tensions, Chinese warships and submarines are making their way towards Pakistan for potential wargames, a development that has raised eyebrows across the Indian Ocean Region. The Indian Navy, with its keen focus on maintaining security and stability in its area of responsibility, is actively monitoring these movements.
Chinese Naval Presence in the Indian Ocean Region
China’s naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region has been a matter of continuous observation and analysis by the Indian Navy. In the context of the recent developments, three Chinese Navy warships, which include a destroyer, a frigate, and a tanker, have been reported in the Persian Gulf region. What makes this development noteworthy is the anticipation of joint maritime exercises with the Pakistan Navy, which is being closely watched by regional and global security experts.
The 44th and 45th Anti-Piracy Escort Force (APEF)
The three aforementioned Chinese warships were originally part of the 44th Anti-Piracy Escort Force (APEF) since May 2023. This force has played a crucial role in safeguarding international shipping lanes from piracy and other maritime threats. In a noteworthy transition, they have now handed over their responsibilities to the 45th APEF in the Gulf of Aden. The 45th APEF entered the Indian Ocean Region in October and has maintained its presence there since then.
Observing American Deployments and Regional Dynamics
This development also raises questions about the intentions behind the Chinese and Pakistani naval cooperation. According to sources in the security establishment, there is a possibility that these warships are advancing towards the Persian Gulf region to observe American deployments. This move comes in the aftermath of the Israel-Hamas conflict, which has sparked geopolitical interest in the region. Notably, a Song Class submarine and the submarine Support Vessel Chang Dao (ASR 847) have joined the Chinese warships, adding another layer of complexity to the situation.
Indian Navy’s Vigilance and Deployment
The Indian Navy, ever watchful of the maritime domain it considers its responsibility, has been keeping a close eye on these developments. Its assets are actively deployed around crucial areas such as the Malacca Straits. The Indian Navy utilizes its P-8I anti-submarine warfare planes and the MQ-9B Predator drones extensively to maintain surveillance and situational awareness.
Scheduled Wargames with Pakistan
The wargames between the Chinese and Pakistani navies are scheduled to take place in the mid to end of November. This joint military exercise is expected to involve various naval assets from both nations. The exact nature and objectives of these exercises are yet to be disclosed.
Indian Navy’s Ongoing Monitoring
In addition to the aforementioned developments, the Indian Navy has also been actively tracking a Chinese quasi-military research vessel, Shi Yan 6, in the Indian Ocean Region since the middle of September. This research vessel is currently involved in Joint Scientific Research in the Sri Lankan Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which is of considerable interest to regional stakeholders.
The Indian Navy maintains a significant presence not only in the Indian Ocean but also in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Aden. It continues its vigilant surveillance efforts against any movements or activities that may pose security concerns in the region.
These developments underscore the complex dynamics of naval activities in the Indian Ocean Region, which is of great strategic importance. The Indian Navy’s proactive monitoring and preparedness reflect its commitment to ensuring regional security and stability.