In­dian Navy on yet another Be­nign Hu­man­i­tar­ian Mis­sion

It is the be­nign role as­signed to the In­dian Navy which has been tested re­peat­edly un­der the most try­ing and ad­verse con­di­tions and hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance & dis­as­ter re­lief mis­sions most pro­fi­ciently and suc­cess­fully ac­com­plished.

SP's NavalForces - - FRONT PAGE - Rear Ad­mi­ral Sushil Ram­say (Retd)

THE BA­SIC STRUC­TURE OF a na­tion’s naval forces is founded on the con­cept of ca­pac­ity and ca­pa­bil­ity build-up to be able to launch full range of oper­a­tions which a na­tion is likely to un­der­take depend­ing upon its geostrate­gic lo­ca­tion, threat per­cep­tion and the na­tional se­cu­rity con­struct en­grained in its na­tional strat­egy. The ca­pa­bil­ity build-up is made ver­sa­tile and dy­namic for the oper­a­tions rang­ing from high in­ten­sity war fight­ing on the one end of the spec­trum to the hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance and dis­as­ter re­lief oper­a­tions at the other. The In­dian Mar­itime Doc­trine for the In­dian Navy ac­cord­ingly en­vis­ages four ma­jor roles — Mil­i­tary, Diplo­matic, Con­stab­u­lary and Be­nign. Mar­itime forces be­cause of its in­her­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics of quick mo­bil­i­sa­tion are ex­tremely use­ful in the early stages of a cri­sis for pro­vid­ing re­lief ma­te­rial, first aid and suc­cour. Ac­cord­ingly the ca­pac­i­ties and ca­pa­bil­i­ties such as mo­bil­ity, reach, en­durance and quick re­sponse, cou­pled with the sealift ca­pa­bil­ity are deeply en­shrined in the mar­itime doc­trine.

It is the be­nign role as­signed to the In­dian Navy (IN) which has been tested re­peat­edly un­der the most try­ing and ad­verse con­di­tions and hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance & dis­as­ter re­lief (HADR) mis­sions most pro­fi­ciently and suc­cess­fully ac­com­plished. The evac­u­a­tion of In­dian cit­i­zens and those be­long­ing to as many as 41 other coun­tries by the In­dian Navy ships in a dar­ing mis­sion from the con­flict zone of Ye­men is a shin­ing tes­ti­mony. It has fur­ther es­tab­lished In­dian Navy’s ca­pa­bil­ity to ex­e­cute such tasks with alacrity and pro­fes­sional com­pe­tence, what­ever be the cir­cum­stances. Here is a flash­back of the past suc­cess­ful mis­sions which have en­sured In­dian Navy to right­fully gain global recog­ni­tion that it truly de­serves.

Op­er­a­tion Madad/Sea Wave/Cas­tor/ Rain­bow/Gamb­hir

On De­cem­ber 26, 2004, the tsunami tidal waves hit the shores of 11 In­dian Ocean lit­toral coun­tries—Bangladesh, Burma, In­dia, In­done­sia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mal­dives, So­ma­lia, Sri Lanka, Tan­za­nia and Thai­land. While In­done­sia and Sri Lanka were hard­est hit, Thai­land and In­dia’s south-eastern coast, An­daman and Ni­co­bar Is­lands suf­fered ex­ten­sive dam­age. The In­dian Navy de­ployed 32 naval ships, seven air­craft and 20 he­li­copters un­der the most ad­verse con­di­tions in sup­port of five res­cue, re­lief and re­con­struc­tion mis­sions as part of Op­er­a­tion Madad (Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu coast), Op­er­a­tion Sea Waves (An­daman & Ni­co­bar Is­lands), Op­er­a­tion Cas­tor (Mal­dives), Op­er­a­tion Rain­bow (Sri Lanka) and Op­er­a­tion Gamb­hir (In­done­sia). In a unique ini­tia­tive, the then Chief of the Naval Staff, with­out even wait­ing for the for­mal sanc­tion from the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia, or­dered naval ships and air­craft to pro­ceed with des­patch along with re­lief and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ma­te­ri­als.

Op­er­a­tion Sukoon

As the Is­rael-Le­banon con­flict in­ten­si­fied in July 2006, large num­bers of for­eign­ers to the re­gion were des­per­ately seek­ing to leave the con­flict zone. In­dia too had a large num­ber of its cit­i­zens en­trapped in this hot con­flict zone. IN sin­gle-hand­edly un­der­took the largest civil­ian evac­u­a­tion op­er­a­tion at Beirut, Le­banon, from July 21 to 23, 2006. Four In­dian Navy ships — Mum­bai, Betwa, Brahma­pu­tra and Shakti— un­der the tac­ti­cal com­mand of the then Rear Ad­mi­ral Anup Singh, Flag Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing Western Fleet, suc­cess­fully evac­u­ated a to­tal of 1,495 stranded In­dian, Sri Lankan, Nepalese and Le­banese na­tion­als, who were brought to safety to the port of Lar­naca in south-east Cyprus.

The Beirut sealift by the Western Fleet ships thus brought home 2,280 peo­ple to safety that in­cluded 1,764 In­dian na­tion­als be­sides na­tion­als from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Le­banon and two In­dian ori­gin cit­i­zens of United States. In ad­di­tion, 65 tonnes of re­lief ma­te­rial such as medicines, clothes and food was also trans­ported to Beirut on Au­gust 1, 2006, by Betwa.

The ra­pid­ity and suc­cess of the safe evac­u­a­tion of both In­dian and for­eign na­tion­als had earned ac­co­lades for In­dia’s re­sponse to the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis. The swift de­ploy­ment of In­dian Navy ships in a theatre of war 4,000 nau­ti­cal miles (7,200 km) away from its home point­edly un­der­scores In­dian Navy’s flex­i­bil­ity, mo­bil­ity and reach for trans-oceanic oper­a­tions a truly blue wa­ter ca­pa­bil­ity.

Op­er­a­tion Ra­hat

Ye­men wit­nessed a fierce bat­tle be­tween Saudi-led coali­tion and Shi­ite rebels who have bat­tled their way into var­i­ous cities. The Red Cross had warned of a cat­a­strophic’ sit­u­a­tion in Ye­men’s main south­ern city Aden which wit­nessed fierce fight­ing over sev­eral weeks. The In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross spokesper­son, Marie Claire Feghali, de­scribed the hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion across Ye­men as “very dif­fi­cult [with] naval, air and ground routes cut off.

Con­se­quent upon the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia is­su­ing an ad­vi­sory for In­dian na­tion­als to leave Ye­men, the In­dian Navy de­ployed three ships in sup­port of the evac­u­a­tion op­er­a­tion. With ac­cess to air­ports within the coun­try de­nied by war­ring frag­ments, sealift was the safest op­tion avail­able to evac­u­ate peo­ple.

In a well-co­or­di­nated op­er­a­tion in­volv­ing mul­ti­ple agen­cies, INS Su­mi­tra, an off­shore pa­trol ves­sel, which was de­ployed for anti-piracy pa­trol in the Gulf of Aden since March 11, 2015, was the first to un­der­take evac­u­a­tion. The ship was re-de­ployed off the Port of Aden on March 30, 2015, and en­tered Aden Har­bour in the evening of March 31, 2015. Dur­ing fre­quent evac­u­a­tion trips heavy shelling was ob­served by the ship’s crew in Al Hodei­dah and the ad­join­ing ar­eas.

In­dian Navy ships Mum­bai and Tarkash pro­ceeded with des­patch from Mum­bai on March 30, 2015, for evac­u­a­tion of In­dian na­tion­als from Ye­meni ports. The ships es­corted two Ship­ping Cor­po­ra­tion of In­dia (Ex Cochin) pas­sen­ger ves­sels, Kavaratti and Corals, through the piracy risk area off the Coast of So­ma­lia.

Since the evac­uees had gone through agony, faced threat to their lives and were dis­lodged from their homes, leav­ing all their be­long­ings be­hind, in­struc­tions were is­sued by Head­quar­ters Western Naval Com­mand to en­sure a com­fort­able stay for the evac­uees dur­ing the pas­sage. Ac­cord­ingly, ex­ten­sive ar­range­ments were made by the ships’ crew to en­sure that all evac­uees were well looked af­ter with hu­mane face. Crew liv­ing quar­ters were ap­pro­pri­ately pre­pared to ac­com­mo­date women, el­derly per­sons and chil­dren. The ship also ar­ranged to serve hot meals to all evac­uees, de­spite the lim­i­ta­tions ships’ gal­ley (or kitchen). Rais­ing to the oc­ca­sion the ships’ cooks con­tin­u­ously worked day and night to pro­vide hot meals us­ing the ships own ra­tions. On their ar­rival on­board, the ship’s med­i­cal of­fi­cers at­tended to those in need of med­i­cal at­ten­tion. Spe­cial care was pro­vided to preg­nant women and el­derly per­sons.

Con­clu­sion

The con­duct of In­dian Navy of­fi­cers and sailors and their ex­cep­tional ex­e­cu­tion of re­spon­si­bil­ity which is not their nor­mal task came in for ad­mi­ra­tion and praise from all con­cerned. In­dian evac­uees were proud of their In­dian Navy and for­eign evac­uees were full of grat­i­tude, whilst the in­ter­na­tional media was awestruck by the rapid re­sponse and pre­ci­sion work by the In­dian Navy.

Prime Min­is­ter lauded the valiant ef­forts in evac­u­at­ing cit­i­zens from other coun­tries, among the In­di­ans: “Salute the ser­vices of our civil­ian and de­fence of­fi­cials and or­gan­i­sa­tions in help­ing evac­u­ate our cit­i­zens from Ye­men. Con­tinue your ef­forts! Seam­less co­op­er­a­tion be­tween or­gan­i­sa­tions Ð Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs, Navy, Air Force, Air In­dia, Ship­ping, Rail­ways and State Gov­ern­ments greatly helped in res­cue work.

In keep­ing with the high­est tra­di­tions of the Navy, Ad­mi­ral R.K. Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff, was prompt with his lauda­tory recog­ni­tion for the valiant ef­forts of In­dian Navy ships un­der most chal­leng­ing and haz­ardous con­di­tions which did In­dia proud. On April 20, 2015, he lav­ished praises: “Out­stand­ing job. The coun­try is proud of you. The Navy is proud of you. You have done an out­stand­ing job in the face of ad­ver­sity and dan­ger. You have evac­u­ated 1,783 In­di­ans and 1,291 for­eign na­tion­als from over 30 coun­tries, and have given an out­stand­ing ex­am­ple of ser­vice be­fore self’.

In­dian Navy in res­cue oper­a­tions of In­dian na­tion­als from

the war-rav­aged Ye­men dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Ra­hat

PHO­TO­GRAPHS: In­dian Navy

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