Amid Iranian proxy threats against merchant vessels near the Indian coast, the Indian Navy has heightened surveillance measures across the Arabian Sea

New Delhi: With rising concerns over Iranian proxies targeting merchant ships off the Indian coast, the Indian Navy has escalated its vigilance across the Arabian Sea.

New Delhi witnessed the deployment of five cutting-edge guided missile destroyers, accompanied by a logistics tanker, Boeing P-8I anti-submarine maritime warfare aircraft, and the long-endurance Sea Guardian drone. This strategic move aims to ensure the safety of sea communication lanes spanning from Bab el-Mandeb to the Indian coast, shielding merchant vessels from potential missile threats by Iranian proxies in the Middle East.

The Indian Navy's deployment includes INS Kolkata, INS Kochi, INS Mormugao, INS Chennai, and INS Visakhapatnam, strategically positioned across the Arabian Sea. INS Kolkata guards the mouth of the Red Sea, INS Kochi patrols south of Yemen's Socotra Island, INS Mormugao operates in the western Arabian Sea, and INS Chennai is stationed in the central Arabian Sea.

Of significant note, INS Visakhapatnam embarked on a mission to patrol the northern Arabian Sea, departing from the Indian coast two days ago, following an incident involving an Iranian Shahed 136 ammunition hitting the chemical tanker MV Chem Pluto 210 nautical miles off Dwarka, Gujarat.

Fuelling these five top-tier destroyers is the MV Swarnamala, a 25,000-ton oil tanker currently engaged by the Indian Navy. Notably surpassing the Indian Navy's tanker capacities, this civilian tanker possesses substantial fuel and lubricant capabilities.

While the Indian Navy's destroyers are actively securing the Arabian Sea, combatting black shipping and piracy while deterring potential missile attacks by Iranian-backed militias and terrorist groups, aerial surveillance remains robust. Boeing P-8I multi-mission aircraft and the long-endurance Sea Guardian drone continually surveil vessels across the Arabian Sea, extending their reach up to the Gulf of Aden. Their primary objective is to identify suspicious ships and dhows used by Shia Houthis in Yemen, Shia Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq, and Tehran-linked groups for targeting commercial shipping.

The escalating tensions involving Iranian proxies—especially the Houthis' targeting of vessels in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea amid Israel's conflict with Sunni Hamas in Gaza—underscore the need for heightened security measures. Iran-backed Shia Hezbollah's involvement in clashes with Israel along its northern border further amplifies concerns.

While the US-led coalition focuses on deterring Iranian proxies in the Red Sea, India's concentrated efforts aim to safeguard the Arabian Sea against potential missile threats, preserving trillion-dollar-worth merchant and oil trade routes vulnerable to Iranian militia activities.

In conjunction with the Indian Navy's initiatives, the Coast Guard intensifies patrolling efforts within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) along the western coast. Equipped with offshore patrol vessels and Dornier surveillance aircraft, the Coast Guard aims to ensure the integrity of the Indian coastline and the Arabian Sea, actively monitoring against any suspicious activities.