India’s Navy Chief Robin Dhowan today said Chinese activity has gone up “exponentially” in the Indian Ocean.
“China has been deploying nuclear submarines. India is concerned. But India cannot do much as these are international waters,” Admiran Dhowan said in an interview to NDTV.
He said the Indian Navy needs to be dominant in the region even though its fleet is inadequate.
“We have to protect our interest. Lack of submarines and helicopters is a concern but we have to fight with what we have,” Admiral Dhowan said.
In moves that reflect China’s determination to make its presence felt in the Indian Ocean, its submarines have shown up in Sri Lanka, the island nation off India’s southern coast. China has also strengthened ties with the Maldives, the Indian Ocean archipelago.
With further concerns in the region over Beijing’s aggressive stance in the disputed South China Sea, India is speeding up its navy modernisation programme.
The need to modernize and improve India’s fleet was reinforced by recent submarine accidents.
Admiral Dhowan called the accidents a combination of human error – linked to violation of standard operating procedure – maintenance and material failure.
“The accidents were a culmination of all three or at least one of them,” he said.
An inquiry into the fire on board INS Sindhuratna – the Russian built Kilo Class submarine – in February this year has “found seven officers guilty of various acts of omissions and commissions.”
Months before the Sindhuratna fire, another submarine, the INS Sindhurakshak, exploded and sank killing 18 crewmen on board. After a series of incidents, then Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi resigned owning moral responsibility.
Admiral Dhowan asserted that the Navy cannot afford to discard old ships. “Old platforms are not necessarily problem. We have to preserve as much as resources as possible and use them judicially,” he said.