Maritime Security | Issues and Solutions

Maritime Security is essential for India as it has a vast coastline of about 7,600 kilometres and island territories on both sides of the Indian peninsula. India’s maritime vulnerability came into sharp focus in November 2008 when Mumbai was the target of an audacious terrorist attack and many lessons were learnt in that tragic experience.

Maritime Security | Issues and Solutions


  • Both capacity and capability building has been focused across all the maritime forces especially in the navy and coastguard since the Mumbai attacks. There has also been a structured attempt to improve coordination between these forces.
  • The ‘Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill, 2015’ is facing the axe of the disruptions in Parliament which is essential for the country to fight against piracy. It accommodates various regulatory safeguards to ensure a piracy-free coastal borders of India which the Navy too is aspiring for.
  • The ‘Coastal Security Scheme’ of 2005-06 focused on Marine policing. There are states like Tamil Nadu which have significantly improved in this section, whereas states like West Bengal are not giving enough attention to the maritime security interests via ‘Marine Policing’.
  • It is necessary to integrate a coordinated intelligence framework specially dedicated to serve India’s maritime security interests. A ‘National Apex Maritime Authority’ could help to coordinate policy and to avoid duplication of efforts by various Government departments and agencies.
  • There was a demand to establish a Central Marine Police Force on the lines of various Central Forces which would be dedicated specially to secure the maritime interests of the nation. This force would be very efficient and technologically superior as compared to the marine police forces of the states. Few States are not in favour of this idea because of various interests, most important of them is the issue of funding by the Centre. States are not in favour of funding such Central Forces out of their meagre budgets.
  • There is a much larger awareness in State Governments post 2008 and in state police forces. Hence, the security around the ports has been upgraded both in manpower and technological terms (Biometric systems).
  • It is important to understand that there cannot be a universal security scheme for protecting maritime interests of the nation. There are different threats such as piracy, smuggling, naval threats (external in nature). Hence, a close coordination is required to provide a disciplinary response to any future exigency.

Maritime Security |  Conclusion

India’s maritime security issues and opportunities are both complex and varied. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been advocating SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) with India as the net security provider. This focus on the maritime domain is valuable and hopefully marks the beginning of the end of India’s traditional sea blindness. But still it is a long voyage while sustaining the collective effort. A collective effort in the context of cooperative federalism would go a long way in securing India’s maritime interests.

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Maritime Security of India

Maritime Security of India is faced with multiple and complex security and strategic challenges. There is political turmoil and instability in the immediate neighbourhood. These have a direct impact on India’s security. India would have to proactively shape the strategic environment in her area of interest for her to be counted as a predominant power.


  • To deter conflict and coercion against India.
  • To conduct maritime military operations in a manner that enables early termination of conflict on terms favourable to India.
  • To shape a favourable and positive maritime environment, for enhancing net security in India’s areas of maritime interest.
  • To protect Indian coastal and offshore assets against attacks and threats emanating from or at sea.
  • To develop requisite maritime force levels and maintain capability for meeting India’s maritime security requirements.

Maritime Security | Areas of Interest

Primary Areas

  • India’s coastal areas and maritime zones, including coastline, islands, internal sea waters, territorial waters, contiguous zone, EEZ and continental shelf.
  • Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Andaman Sea, and their littoral regions.
  • Persian Gulf and its littoral, which is source of majority of our oil supplies and gas imports, and is home to more than seven million expatriate Indians.
  • Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, and their littoral regions.
  • South-West Indian Ocean, including IOR island nations therein and East Coast of Africa littoral regions.
  • Choke points leading to, from and across Indian Ocean, including Six degree Channel; Eight/Nine-degree Channels; Straits of Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb, Malacca, Singapore, Sunda and Lombok; Mozambique Channel, and Cape of Good Hope and their littoral regions.
  • Other areas encompassing our SLOCs, and vital energy and resource interests.

Secondary Areas

  • South-East Indian Ocean, including sea routes to the Pacific Ocean and littoral regions in vicinity.
  • South and East China Seas, Western Pacific Ocean, and their littoral regions.
  • Southern Indian Ocean Region, including Antarctica.
  • Mediterranean Sea, West Coast of Africa, and their littoral regions.
  • Other areas of national interest based on considerations of Indian diaspora, overseas investments and political relations.

Threats :

Traditional Threats and Sources :

Refer to states with organized military capability and resources, which harbour adversarial posture and inimical intent towards India.

Non-Traditional Threats and Sources

  • Maritime Terrorism
  • Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea
  • Unregulated Activities at Sea – This may be experienced within the EEZ, especially for nations with a large EEZ and relatively smaller maritime forces.
  • Trafficking/ Smuggling.
  • Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU).
  • Proliferation of Private Armed Security.
  • Climate Change and Natural Disasters

Maritime Security  | Critical Common Requirements

Certain aspects overlap and others remain common.

  • Maritime Domain Awareness.
  • Force Structures and Capabilities.
  • Preparedness and Presence.
  • Networked Operations.
  • Jointness and Coordination.
  • Strategic Communication.

India’s Deterrence Strategy

Nuclear Deterrence Based on maintenance of a credible minimum deterrent, with assurance of massive nuclear retaliation designed to inflict unacceptable damage, in response to a nuclear strike against India.

Conventional Deterrence Requires maintenance of suitable combat power for exercising both methods of deterrence, viz. by denial and by punishment.

Main Components of Maritime Security Strategy for Deterrence :

  • Force Structure and Capabilities.
  • Threat Assessment and Contingency Planning.
  • Strategic Situational Awareness and Maritime Domain Awareness.
  • Preparedness and Presence.
  • Strategic Communication.
  • Operational Principles

Strategic Effects Sought :

  • Repulsion of aggression.
  • Management of escalation.
  • Degradation of the threats emanating from conflict.
  • Imposition of punitive costs.
  • Psychological dominance.
  • Creation of military conditions for an early and favourable conclusion of conflict.
  • Protection of national maritime interests.
  • Preparedness for Conflict.

Contingency Planning

  • Human resource development, including adequate and realistic training, for the full spectrum of maritime operations.
  • Higher operational availability and readiness of combat forces.
  • Suitable weapons and arming policies.
  • Sufficient stock of munitions and combat spares for sustaining the envisaged tempo, scale, intensity and duration of conflict.
  • Quick and dispersed Operational Turn Round (OTR) capability.
  • Improved operational logistics and replenishment capability at sea.
  • Maintain presence in areas of interest, to develop MDA, obtain familiarity with the operational environment, and enable quick response to any crisis.
  • Augment means and improve preparedness through the strategy for force and capability development.

Principles of Net Maritime Security

  • Preservation of Peace.
  • Promotion of Stability.
  • Maintenance of Security.

Actions for Net Maritime Security

  • Presence and Rapid Response.
  • Maritime Engagement.
  • Capacity Building and Capability Enhancement.
  • Develop Regional MDA.
  • Maritime Security Operations.
  • Strategic Communication for Net Maritime Security.

Presence and Rapid Response

Both independently and in coordination with friendly foreign maritime forces

  • Presence and Surveillance Mission (PSM).
  • Patrol
  • Overseas Deployment (OSD).

Maritime Engagement

  • Port Visits.
  • Personnel Exchanges.
  • Staff Talks and Interactions.
  • Exercises with Foreign Navies.
  • Maritime Assistance.
  • Operational Interactions.
  • High-Level Maritime Strategic Interactions.

Maritime Security Operations

  • EEZ Surveillance and Patrols.
  • Coordinated Patrols (CORPAT).
  • Anti-Piracy Operations.
  • Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations.
  • Non-combatant Evacuation Operations.
  • Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO).
  • Peace Support Operations (PSO).
  • Maritime Search and Rescue (M-SAR).

Developing Coastal and Off-shore Security Mechanisms

  • Coastal and Offshore Security Framework.
  • Coastal and Offshore Maritime Domain Awareness.
  • Coastal Community Participation.
  • Coordinated Presence and Patrol.
  • Coordinated Operational Response.
  • Cooperative Capability Development.
  • Maritime Governance.

Agencies for Coordinated Patrol

  • State Marine Police: Responsible for patrolling inner layer from coastline upto territorial waters, in coordination with Customs, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and respective port authorities, as relevant.
  • Indian Coast Guard: Patrols maritime zones of India, and supports State Marine Police within inner layer as required.
  • Indian Navy: Supports Indian Coast Guard within maritime zones as required, and provides presence, including surveillance and patrol, on high seas beyond EEZ. Also undertakes patrolling in ODA, and its Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB) specialised force undertakes patrolling of naval harbours.

Maritime Governance

Multiple Agencies and Functions: National apex level policy and review of maritime security, covering all maritime agencies and domains, is undertaken through ‘National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security against Threats from Sea’ (NCSMCS), constituted under chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary in 2009. This has representatives from all ministries, departments, and organizations concerned in Government of India, as well as Chief Secretaries/Administrators and senior police officials of coastal states and UTs.

Force Levels and capability development

  • Indigenisation for Self-Reliance and Self-Sufficiency.
  • Standardisation and Modularity.
  • Maritime Domain Awareness.
  • Network Centric Operations.
  • Enhanced Reach and Sustainability.
  • Power Projection and Sea Control.
  • Force Protection.
  • Joint Operations.
  • Special Forces Operations.
  • Force Maintenance.
  • Infrastructure and Logistics.
  • New and Evolving Technologies.

New and Evolving Technologies

  • Future Satellites.
  • Precision Weapon Technologies.
  • Electromagnetic and Laser Technologies.
  • Propulsion and Power Technology.
  • Unmanned Marine Systems.
  • Computation and Automation Technologies.
  • Cyber Security Technologies.
  • Green Technologies.
  • Nano-Technology.

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