Indian navy put on standby to evacuate Indians from Gulf

The Indian Navy is on standby to deploy warships for emergency evacuation of Indians if the Iranian missile strikes on US-led forces in Iraq escalate into a wider conflict in the Gulf region. The Navy currently has a warship, the 4,000-tonne stealth frigate INS Trikand, deployed in the Gulf of Oman as part of the ongoing “Operation Sankalp”, which was launched in June last year to safeguard Indian flagged vessels transiting through the Strait of Hormuz after some maritime security incidents in the region.

“INS Trikand can be diverted to help in the evacuation if it’s required. The Navy is also keeping a couple of warships on full operational readiness, with all supplies, if they have to head towards the Middle-East,” said an official.

Similarly, the IAF can deploy its heavy-lift aircraft like the C-17 Globemaster-III for the evacuation if the need arises. “Both Navy and IAF have helped in evacuating stranded Indians from trouble-spots earlier. Indian warships, for instance, had evacuated Indians as well as foreign nationals from war-torn Yemen under Operation Rahat in early-2015. They have also regularly render assistance in India’s maritime neighbourhood during times of natural disasters,” said the official.

Indian warships have been maintaining a continuous presence in both anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden as well as Operation Sankalp. Under the latter, the Navy till now has safely escorted over 75 Indian merchant vessels, with over 80 lakh tonnes of cargo on board, through the Straits of Hormuz since early last year.

“Indian warships and aircraft were deployed to establish presence, provide a sense of reassurance to the Indian merchantmen, monitor the ongoing situation and respond to any emergent crises. The Navy continues to monitor the situation in the Gulf region and is maintaining its presence there to ensure security of our sea borne trade,” said another official.

Source: Times of India