Indo-Oman Mar­itime Re­la­tions

Oman over­looks the Strait of Hor­muz which is the sole en­trance to the Ara­bian Gulf and the ac­cess of oil sup­plies to the world. The Royal Navy of OmanÕs fleet con­sists of var­i­ous craft equipped with state-of-the-art com­bat sys­tems, ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing out

SP's NavalForces - - FRONT PAGE - LT GEN­ERAL (RETD) NARESH CHAND

THe Sul­TANATe Of OmAN (con­ven­tion­ally called Oman) is an Arab state in the South West Asia. It is strate­gi­cally lo­cated at the mouth of the Per­sian Gulf, on the south­east coast of the Ara­bian Penin­sula. Its coast is formed by the Ara­bian Sea on the south-east and the Gulf of Oman on the north-east. The Por­tuguese ex­plor­ers ar­rived in Oman dur­ing 1507 and oc­cu­pied mus­cat till 1650, which they used to pro­tect their sea lanes. The Ot­toman Navy took over the port of Oman in 1522 dur­ing the fight for con­trol over the Per­sian Gulf. from the 17th cen­tury on­wards, Oman had its own em­pire. Dur­ing the 19th cen­tury, Oman was at the peak of its power and vied with Por­tu­gal and Bri­tain for in­flu­ence in the Per­sian Gulf and In­dian Ocean. OmanÕs power de­clined dur­ing the 20th cen­tury and it came un­der the in­flu­ence of uK, al­though it was never part of the Bri­tish em­pire or its pro­tec­torate. Oman has long-stand­ing mil­i­tary and po­lit­i­cal ties with the uS and uK. Oman is an ab­so­lute monar­chy and ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tional in­dices, Oman is one of the most de­vel­oped and sta­ble coun­tries in the Arab world. Oman has long pros­pered by trad­ing in the In­dian Ocean. Oman fol­lows a mod­er­ate and in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy which is aimed at main­tain­ing good re­la­tions with all mid­dle east coun­tries. In 1981, Oman be­came a found­ing mem­ber of the six-na­tion Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil. The present king Sultan Qa­boos is ed­u­cated at the Royal Academy Sand­hurst and is re­spected by his fel­low Gulf rulers as a de­fence strate­gist who has long seen the uS as the key se­cu­rity guar­an­tor of the re­gion. Oman was the first Per­sian Gulf

state to for­mally al­low the uS mil­i­tary to use its mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties. It has hosted the uS forces dur­ing ev­ery uS mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion in and around the Gulf since 1980 and has be­come a sig­nif­i­cant buyer of the uS mil­i­tary equip­ment. Oman is also a part­ner in the uS ef­forts to counter-ter­ror­ism and piracy in the Per­sian Gulf and Ara­bian Sea.

Mar­itime facts: Oman has a coast­line of 2,092 km. Its mar­itime claims in­clude ter­ri­to­rial sea of 12 nm (about 22 km), con­tigu­ous zone of 24 nm (about 44 km) and ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone (eeZ) of 200 nm (about 370 km) which is about half a mil­lion km2.

Oil and gas: Sim­i­lar to other Arab coun­tries, oil is the main­stay of the econ­omy of Oman but its oil and gas re­serves are not as large as some of the other Arab coun­tries in the neigh­bour­hood. The min­istry of Oil and Gas is re­spon­si­ble for all oil and gas in­fra­struc­ture and projects. De­tails of oil and gas pro­duc­tion and re­serves are:

Crude oil (pro­duc­tion): 915,600 bbl/ day (in 2012); 22 in the world.

zz Crude oil (proved re­serves): 4.902 bil­lion bbl (as on Jan­uary 1, 2012); 25 in the world.

zz Nat­u­ral gas (pro­duc­tion): 35.94 bil­lion cu m (in 2012); 26 in the world.

Nat­u­ral gas (proved re­serves): 849.5 bil­lion cu m (as on Jan­uary 1, 2012); 27 in the world.

Armed Forces of Oman

OmanÕs armed forces con­sist of the fol­low­ing: zzRoyal Army of Oman zzRoyal Navy of Oman zz Royal Air force of Oman Oman main­tains sep­a­rate armed per­son­nel to guard the royal house­hold con­sist­ing of guards, spe­cial forces staff, sailors and pi­lots. It also main­tains para­mil­i­tary forces.

Royal Navy of Oman (RNO)

Sultan Qa­boos took over as head of the state on July 23, 1970, and is the Supreme Com­man­der of the Armed forces. He re­alised the im­por­tance of OmanÕs strate­gic lo­ca­tion with its long coast­line, con­nect­ing the trade routes be­tween the east and the West. Oman over­looks the Strait of Hor­muz which is the sole en­trance to the Ara­bian Gulf and the ac­cess of oil sup­plies to the world. The Sultan has thus spared QR HIIRuW WR eXlOG D PRGHuQ DQG HI­fiflHQW naval force ca­pa­ble of se­cur­ing na­tional lQWHuHVWV RI 2PDQ. 7KH flHHW fRQVlVWV RI var­i­ous craft equipped with state-of-theart com­bat sys­tems, ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing out its role un­der all cir­cum­stances. Naval bases and other units were built to pro­vide op­er­a­tional, lo­gis­tic and ad­min­is­tra­tive VXSSRuW WR WKH flHHW.

Vi­sion

RNO has a Na­tional Strate­gic Plan for the PRGHuQlVDWlRQ RI QDyDO flHHW, VXSSRuW VyVtems and bases. It pri­mar­ily fo­cuses on the pol­icy of phas­ing in and phas­ing out RI VKlSV DQG VXSSRuWlQJ WKH flHHW ZlWK ad­vanced ves­sels to main­tain the sovereignty of Omani waters so that se­cu­rity and na­tional tasks are safely pre­served. This is in ad­di­tion to safe­guard­ing navi- gation, sup­port­ing de­vel­op­ment plans and pre­serv­ing se­cu­rity and dig­nity of Oman. The fu­ture vi­sion of RNO fo­cuses RQ IXWXuH VWuHQJWK RI WKH flHHW ey SuR­vid­ing it with ad­vanced ships of var­i­ous WySHV WR IXO­fiOO lWV RSHuDWlRQDO uROH. ,Q ad­di­tion it also pro­vides naval sup­port XQlWV IRu WKH flHHW.

Role of RNO

The role and du­ties of RNO are:

To im­pose na­tional sovereignty on Omani ter­ri­to­rial waters. zz Se­cure pa­trol tasks in ter­ri­to­rial wa­ter and the eeZ.

Pro­tect naval bases and other RNO es­tab­lish­ments. en­sure sea ship­ping for SAf units along the Sul­tanate coasts,

Con­duct hy­dro­graphic sur­veys for the Omani coasts. Pro­vide sup­port to Royal Air force of Oman and Royal Oman Po­lice (who also have the man­date to pro­vide coastal se­cu­rity). Pro­vide as­sis­tance to civil­ians dur­ing GlVDVWHuV DQG fi­uH­fiJKWlQJ DW VHD. Sup­port coast­guard unit to de­ter piracy RSHuDWlRQV DQG lOOHJDO PlJuDWlRQ, fiJKW smug­gling op­er­a­tions. To sup­port for­eign re­la­tions of the Sul­tanate by im­ple­ment­ing cour­tesy vis­its pro­grammes from/to the broth­erly and friendly coun­tries. 7R SuRWHfW fiVKlQJ zRQHV DQG RWKHu QDWu­ral re­sources.

Naval Sur­face Com­bat­ants

2PDQ KDV D PRGHVW flHHW DV fRPSDuHG WR In­dia but it is ad­e­quate for its vi­sion and uROH. ,W KDV fiyH PRGHuQ fRuyHWWHV DQG about a dozen pa­trol and coastal com­bat­ants. RNO has also or­dered three off­shore pa­trol ves­sels (OPVs). The OPVs are to be known as the Kha­reef Class Corvettes. The fiuVW WZR KDyH eHHQ GHOlyHuHG DQG ZRuN is on the thired. Sin­ga­pore Tech­nolo­gies engineering ltd had se­cured a con­tract to de­sign and build four pa­trol ves­sels (PVs) for RNO which are likely to be de­liv­ered be­tween 2015 and 2016. Th­ese PVs are 75-me­tre-long based on its pro­pri­etary fear­less class PV.

Indo-Oman Bi­lat­eral Re­la­tions

In­dia and Oman are linked by ge­og­ra­phy, his­tory and cul­ture. There is ev­i­dence to sug­gest that there was a peo­ple to peo­ple con­tact dur­ing the In­dus Val­ley Civil­i­sa­tion and later on there were links with the Gu­jarat and mal­abar coasts. Some salient as­pects are:

Bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween In­dia and Oman were for­mally es­tab­lished in 1953 with the Indo-Oman Treaty of friend­ship, Nav­i­ga­tion and Com­merce. It was the first treaty be­tween In­dia and any Arab coun­try.

Naval ex­er­cises have con­trib­uted to strength­en­ing of bi­lat­eral ties be­tween In­dia and Oman.

The sign­ing of a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing on De­fence Co­op­er­a­tion in De­cem­ber 2005 and es­tab­lish­ment of the Joint mil­i­tary Co­op­er­a­tion in march 2006 has set the foun­da­tion for in­creased de­fence co­op­er­a­tion.

co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the coun­tries has pro­gressed steadily with in­creased port vis­its by naval ships and train­ing of RNO per­son­nel by the In­dian Navy in hy­drog­ra­phy, div­ing, train­ing man­age­ment, lo­gis­tics man­age­ment and dock­yard man­age­ment.

state-owned Goa Ship­yard lim­ited (GSl) has pre­vi­ously de­liv­ered three tug­boats to Oman and is now get­ting fur­ther or­ders from Oman. Sev­eral Indo-Oman bi­lat­eral naval ex­er­cises have been suc­cess­fully car­ried out and have met the un­der­ly­ing aims of the op­er­a­tion. Prime min­is­ter man­mo­han Singh vis­ited Oman in 2008 to re­in­force the bi­lat­eral ties.

per a de­fence agree­ment signed in 2008 be­tween In­dia and Oman, a mar­itime se­cu­rity ar­range­ment was con­cluded.

Oc­to­ber 2009, In­dia and Oman conGXfWHG WKHlu fiuVW mRlQW Dlu HxHuflVHV, code named east­ern Bridge, at the Royal Air force of Oman base at Thum­rait.

min­is­ter A.K. Antony vis­ited Oman in may 2010 to re­in­force In­di­aÕs bi­lat­eral se­cu­rity ties in the Gulf re­gion where other ma­jor pow­ers, in­clud­ing China, have deep­ened their strate­gic mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion.

In­di­aÕs bi­lat­eral se­cu­rity ties have ad­vanced over the years with Oman, which has be­come cen­tral to any in­ter­na­tional strat­egy to sta­bilise the Ara­bian Sea as well as the Per­sian Gulf, the worldÕs most volatile sea links. They also come un­der the shadow of ter­ror­ism, piracy and in­creas­ing lOOHJDO WuDI­fif lQ QDufRWlfV, DuPV DQG SHuVRQnel. Post sign­ing of a pro­to­col on mil­i­tary re­la­tions, In­dia and Oman have de­vel­oped vi­brant mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion dur­ing the last decade. mar­itime co­op­er­a­tion be­tween In­dia and Oman is es­sen­tial to im­pose se­cu­rity in the re­gion. This was high­lighted ey 5HDu $GPluDO $QlO .. &KDZOD, )ODJ 2Ifi­cer in Com­mand of the In­dian NavyÕs Western fleet while ad­dress­ing a gath­er­ing at a re­cep­tion on INS mysore (on Septem­ber 22, 2013) at Port Sultan Qa­boos when he said that the Omani Gov­ern­ment pro­vided im­por­tant sup­port to the ships of In­dian 1Dyy’V :HVWHuQ flHHW GXulQJ WKHlu GHSORy­ment in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy ac­tiv­i­ties. ÒIn fact, it will not be wrong to state that with­out OmanÕs staunch sup­port to all the navies par­tic­i­pat­ing in anti-piracy op­er­a­tions in the re­gion, the scourge would have not been brought un­der con­trol. Oman is play­ing a key role in bring­ing sta­bil­ity in So­ma­lia.Ó Speak­ing on the oc­ca­sion, J.S. mukul, the In­dian Am­bas­sador to Oman, said that Port of Salalah is fast emerg­ing DV D uHJlRQDO KXe lQ WKH PXOWlODWHuDO fiJKW against piracy. He added that Ònaval co­op­er­a­tion forms an im­por­tant pil­lar of our multi-faceted re­la­tion­ship. The In­dian Navy and RNO reg­u­larly con­duct ex­er­cises, and train­ing ex­changes at all lev­els have fur­ther ce­mented bi­lat­eral ties. Oman has be­come an ex­cep­tion­ally re­li­able and close friend of In­dia in sup­port­ing op­er­a­tions of our ships and air­craft in the re­gion. I think that ev­ery coun­try rep­re­sented here to­day owes a vote of thanks to Oman.Ó 7KH fiuVW ,QGlDQ 1Dyy-5RyDO 1Dyy RI 2PDQ ex­er­cise was con­ducted in 1993. This year marks 20 years of In­dian Navy and Royal Navy of Oman bi­lat­eral ex­er­cises.

Naseem Al Bahr (Sea Breeze) 2013

Naseem Al Bahr 2013 will be the ninth edi­tion of the bi­en­nial bi­lat­eral ex­er­cise be­tween the two navies of In­dia and Omen. four In­dian naval ships mysore, Tarkash, Tabar and Aditya have car­ried out a bi­en­nial ex­er­cise with RNO from Septem­ber 23 on­wards. The ships are on a month-long over­seas de­ploy­ment which is aimed at en­hanc­ing bi­lat­eral ties. The In­dian task group is headed by Rear Ad­mi­ral Anil .XPDu &KDZOD, WKH )ODJ 2IfifHu &RPPDQGing of the Western fleet. He said, ÒPiracy in the In­dian Ocean is on the wane but is­sues on land in So­ma­lia need to be re­solved to com­pletely erad­i­cate the men­ace and cre­ate safe pas­sage for a large part of the worldÕs PDulWlPH WuDI­fif WKDW SDVVHV WKuRXJK WKH trade route of the Gulf of Aden.ÓHe pointed out that OmanÕs ports, es­pe­cially Salalah in the south, was handy for In­dian war­ships deal­ing with the prob­lem of piracy. He added that Òlike naval forces of the other coun­tries in the world, the In­dian Navy also pro­vides safe pas­sage to mer­chant ships in the Gulf of Aden by es­cort­ing ships from the start to the end point of a cor­ri­dor con­sid­ered risky. Since In­dian naval ves­sels are pa­trolling the Gulf of Aden to coun­ter­piracy at­tempts, the Navy has man­aged to cap­ture 100 pi­rates and foiled over 40 SluDfy DWWHPSWV lQ WKH ODVW fiyH yHDuV.

The Royal Omani Navy Ships par­tic­i­pat­ing were Royal Navy of Oman Ves­sels (RNOV) mis­sile and gun ves­sels, RONV Al muaz­zar, RONV Al mus­san­dam, RONV Al Naja and a land­ing ship RNOV Tem­sah, along with Royal Air force of Oman air­craft f-16, Hawks and Jaguars amongst oth­ers. The scope and con­tent of naval ex­er­cise Naseem Al Bahr 2013 in­cludes sur­face war­fare, visit board search and seizure, anti-air war­fare, air op­er­a­tion, ad­vanced Helo op­er­a­tions and mar­itime in­ter­dic­tion op­er­a­tions.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: BAE Sys­tems

A file pho­to­graph of Al Shamikh in Oman

PHOTOGRAPHS: PIB, BAE Sys­tems

A.K. Antony in Mus­cat in 2010. De­fence Min­is­ter of Oman, Sayyid Badr bin Saud bin Harib Al Bu­saidi is also seen.

Al Rahmani war­ship handed over to Royal Navy of Oman

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