Indian Navy increases presence in Gulf of Oman following tanker attacks

INS Sunayna escorting a VLCC in the Gulf of Oman

Following the recent spate of attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman, the Indian Navy has deployed ships and aerial surveillance to protect Indian-flagged ships operating in the area.

Suspected attacks on two tankers, the 27,000 dwt product carrier Kokuka Courageous and the 109,894 dwt crude tanker Front Altair, were launched on 13 June near the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway that supports the transportation of 30% of the world’s seaborne oil traffic.

The attacks resulted in a total of 44 crew members abandoning ship with information pointing to the use of torpedoes and limpet mines as being the most likely causes of damage to the vessels. In the wake of the attach, investigations onboard the Front Altair are being undertaken with a specialist salvage and inspection crew on board and the Kokuka Courageous has been towed to the port of Khor Fakkan.

In response to the incidents, the Indian Navy deployed the ships INS Chennai and INS Sunayna in the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf to undertake Maritime Security operations as part of what they have named ‘Operation Sankalp’. In addition to the support being provided on the water, aerial surveillance by Indian Navy aircraft is also being undertaken.

The Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), which was launched by the Indian Navy in December 2018 at Gurugram, India, is also keeping a close watch on the movement of ships in the gulf region.

Efforts undertaken by the Indian Navy as part of the Operation Sankalp will also ensure India’s own energy flow is protected with approximately 80% of country’s energy requirements being supplied by sea, whether imported or indigenous, with roughly 55% sourced from the Persian Gulf region.