The world depends heavily on maritime trade for its sustainability and enables all countries to participate in the global market on the high seas. There is no doubt that the economic and political affairs of South Asia have been dominated by the sea. he Indian Ocean covers 20 percent of the land and is classified as the largest body of water in the world. The IOR includes 38 coastal states, 24 oceanic territories and 17 landlocked countries.

Indian Ocean region

The Indian Ocean region (IOR) has become the world’s main trade and energy route. I remember here what Dr Ash Carter, US Secretary of Defense, said in 2015 during the Shangri-La Dialogue after touring the Singapore Strait in a P-8 surveillance plane with the Singaporean Minister of Defense Ng. What he said was, “What I saw were full tankers, one after another, heading east. Likewise, empty tankers moving in other directions.

That day I realized how much China, Japan and South Korea depended on Persian Gulf oil and it opened my eyes. Remember that 15.2 million barrels of oil are transported daily via this sea route.

Crude oil transported daily around the world

The IOR Littoral is concerned about the vulnerability of the region due to various non-traditional threats to maritime security such as piracy, maritime terrorism, climate change, IUU fishing, illegal immigration and arms smuggling. and drugs. As described by Robert D. Kaplan in his book “Monsoon”, in the maps of the world used in America, the Western Hemisphere is in the center while the Indian Ocean is virtually omitted.

Monsoon: IO and the future of American power

It was very relevant in the 20th century, but not in the 21st century, because the focus has fundamentally changed. Kaplan identified a few countries as “Monsoon Asia,” which includes India, Pakistan, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Oman, Bangladesh, and Tanzania. He explained how important these countries are to American power and firmly believes that this region will gain or lose ground in democracy, energy independence and religious freedom. There are currently two main sources of insecurity in the Indian Ocean. The first is the instability of certain coastal and hinterland states. To some extent, maritime terrorism and maritime piracy threaten the safety of international shipping. In addition, maritime terrorism can also target land targets. Among the non-traditional threats to maritime security, I will focus on drug trafficking. Drug traffickers have used the sea route extensively to take advantage of the inability of most navies to allocate 100% surveillance. Unless the information is very accurate and timely, apprehending contraband drugs will be a difficult task.

Heroin smuggling ship

The Sri Lankan fishing fleet consists of 30,470 motor boats. Of this number, around 4,000 vessels fish on the high seas and are able to stay at sea for more than a month.

Despite the presence of the Sri Lankan Navy and the apprehension of very large quantities of drugs, mainly heroin, it continued to enter the island nation via sea routes, now identified as the “southern route”. Most of SLN’s apprehensions concerned ocean-going vessels with wooden hulls. loaded with drugs on the Makran coast, smuggled from heroin factories in Afghanistan. These ships sail south from the coast of Makran, pass south of the territorial waters of the Maldives, reach the equator and drift on the high seas. Smugglers are smart enough to always stay in international waters and if a warship s approach them, they will simply throw their heroine overboard. It is an extremely difficult task for ship captains to approach ships in the dark and dispatch their VBSS Seizure teams to embark them. On the northern route, Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) in anti-piracy operations, headquartered in Bahrain, confirmed that more than 22,000 tonnes of illegal narcotics, much of which is intended to finance terrorism, was seized in the northern Indian Ocean, but the drugs were destroyed by throwing them overboard and the ships were allowed to return to their home ports. The heroin trade, which originated in the poppy fields of Afghanistan, is a major source of income for extreme groups. With the Taliban having become the rulers of Afghanistan, we cannot expect anything good in terms of drug trafficking. In Sri Lanka, according to estimates by the Dangerous Drugs Prevention Authority, potent heroin addicts consume four to eight milligrams of heroin per day. 40,000 heroin addicts. Due to the tight-knit family system, if a child is addicted to heroin, they will be reported to the authorities for possible rehabilitation. The figures are therefore quite precise.

Thus, we know the annual heroin consumption in Sri Lanka. This is about 116.8 kilograms (8 mg x 40,000 x 365). Typically, it is estimated that law enforcement only detects 10% of drugs and contraband crossing borders. taken over by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard. A total of 1,017 kilograms of heroin, 126 kilograms of ICE and 88 kilograms of hash have been confiscated by SLN this year alone. If the rule of thumb is applied, 10,170 kg of heroin, 1,260 kg of ICE and 880 kg of hash could enter Sri Lanka. You can see that this figure far exceeds Sri Lankan consumption. What is the final destination of these drugs? Surprisingly, we have not detected any significant amount of drugs leaving our coasts to third countries. We need to work hard and work together to find answers to this problem. In the meantime, we need to stay one step ahead when working with drug traffickers. They have money, power and the latest technology. Therefore, it is of paramount importance for nations to work together, sharing knowledge, expertise and training. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Sri Lankan Navy jointly run periodic training programs on VBSS, evidence collection and identification of new types of synthetic drugs. Particularly small island nations in the Indian Ocean that only have a Coast Guard are required to improve their VBSS capabilities.

Coast Guard and Maritime Police personnel from Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros have been trained in VBSS in elite quarters of Special Boat Squadron (SBS) of the Sri Lankan Navy under the watchful eyes of highly trained and knowledgeable SBS instructors. SLN’s ship-in-box training device was developed to offer the real sensation of boarding a ship at sea to these foreign trainees. Sri Lanka Coast Guard and Coast Guard (SLCG) are unique. All officers take their second lieutenant courses, their specialization courses, their staff courses and finally the NDC in Indian naval institutions. This relationship has allowed our Navy to remain very professional. If we have been successful in eradicating terrorism in Sri Lanka, it is thanks to the solid knowledge that we have received in India. On July 9, 2014, the National Security Advisor (NSA) of India, Secretary of Defense of Sri Lanka and Minister of Defense of Maldives signed a trilateral maritime cooperation agreement in New Delhi, which greatly helped Sri Lanka and the Maldives improve their skills at sea in oil and chemical spill management and disaster relief operations.

A Coast Guard exercise titled “Exercise Dosti” was also conducted and today all three countries have compatible oil spill response equipment. With India in the lead, we saw the results of these exercises when the super-tanker MT New Diamond, carrying 270,000 tonnes of crude oil, on its journey from Kuwait to Vizag, caught fire in southeastern Sri Lanka. The ICG and the Indian Navy, with support from the Sri Lankan Navy and an international rescue company, successfully extinguished the blaze and towed the vessel to safety while avoiding a major oil spill Now, Exercise Dosti is carried out on the basis of a roadmap to strengthen cooperation. Other work is carried out on the basis of tabletop exercises, including legal and policy issues related to piracy. August this year, with the meeting of senior security leaders from three countries in Sri Lanka. The intention to invite both Mauritius and the Seychelles to join India in supporting a coastal surveillance radar system in the Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles is a welcome signal. Likewise, India will support Sri Lanka’s existing Automatic Identification System (AIS).

Currently the Information Fusion Center (IFC) for the Indian Ocean region, Gurugram merges the white transport information collected by the Coastal Surveillance Radar System and AIS and shares it with the other two countries. It is encouraging to see that India has signed agreements to share white shipping information with 26 countries.

These facilities, by sharing information, have helped the three countries (India, Maldives and Sri Lanka) to overcome security challenges at sea, including acts of terrorism, piracy, drug and arms trafficking, human trafficking. human beings, IUU fishing and marine pollution.

It is therefore very important for India to work with other smaller Indian Ocean nations to improve and strengthen maritime skills for collective capacity building. Rainbow “, the actions of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to Sri Lankans affected by the tsunami on Boxing Day, December 26, 2004.

Lasting more than two and a half months, it remains the largest relief operation undertaken by India outside the country. The architect and executor of this operation was then the Chief of Staff of the Indian Navy, Admiral Arun Prakash PVSM, AVSM, VrC, VSMis. I salute you sir for saving thousands of innocent lives in my country.

It reminds me of what the late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadiragamar said about Indian support during a critical hour. “Friend in need, friend in action.” I wish the Goa Maritime Conclave the best.