by Abhishek Bhalla

The Navy has scaled up deployment in the Persian Gulf with an eye on Chabahar Port being developed by India in Iran, amid reports of Chinese attempts to make forays in the region.

Chabahar Port is strategic to India's interests as it's close to Pakistan's Gwadar port where the Chinese have invested heavily.

"We have a ship permanently in the region for 15 days every two months. The mission-based deployment is near Chabahar Port to carry out surveillance in the region," said a senior Navy source. "Aerial surveillance is also being done to detect any suspicious activity." The increased activity of the Navy comes amid reports that China is making efforts to acquire a Pakistani military base near Chabahar Port.

The Indian deployment focuses on the Makran coast of Pakistan where Gwadar is located and the Persian Gulf.

Increasing presence of China in the Indian Ocean Region has been a strategic concern for India, and a blueprint to enhance the Navy's surveillance and operational capabilities was discussed during the recently concluded naval commanders conference.

Other than building the Gwadar Port in southern Pakistan and a naval base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, the region also has Chinese ships deployed for anti-piracy operations.

Chinese Navy vessels including their submarines frequent the waters on the pretext of anti-piracy operations, intelligence reports suggest.

However, since August 2017, presence of Chinese nuclear submarines has not been reported, sources said.

This coincides with the 73-day standoff between Indian and Chinese troops ending in Doklam last year. India has been forging tactful partnerships with friendly countries to control the Chinese influence in waters.

Three Indian warships will reach Vietnam on May 21 and be part of an operational deployment till May 25 at Tien Sa Port. This will be followed by an exercise between the two navies.

In January, for the first time, the armies of the two countries held a bilateral exercise in Jabalpur, also reflecting the growing defence ties between the two nations.

India has also been in talks with Indonesia to have access to strategic Malacca Strait that is a key trade route for India. Development of the Sabang Port in the region and Indian naval warships will be given access as per the recent negotiations between the two countries.

Earlier this year, India struck a deal with Oman to have access to Duqm Port.