India India To Build Naval Bases in Island Atolls Close to Maldives

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will be on board INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant task forces to inaugurate a naval base in Minicoy on March 4-5


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INS Vikrant (foreground) and INS Vikramaditya - the two operational Aircraft Carriers of the Indian Navy exercised together for the first time in 2023 and are set to repeat it as part of Exercise MILAN-2024

By Shishir Gupta - Hindustan Times

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep, India has decided to firmly extend its naval footprint by establishing naval bases in Agatti and Minicoy Islands along with air bases in order to secure the vital Sea Lines of Communication.

The Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands sits on the nine degree channel through which billions of dollars worth of commercial trade passes through while enroute to South-East Asia and North Asia.

India will be making a major maritime security statement when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on board INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant carrier task forces which includes nearly 15 warships will travel to Minicoy Islands with naval brass to inaugurate the naval base INS Jatayu on March 4-5.


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SLOCs and Chokepoints of the Indian Ocean Region

The Indian Navy plans to hold the first phase of Combined Commanders Conference on board Indian aircraft carriers with the two armadas travelling from Goa to Karwar to Minicoy Islands to Kochi. The second phase of commanders conference will be held on March 6-7.

It is understood that the Modi government has decided to build a new airstrip at Minicoy Island and upgrade the air strip at Agatti island with plans to station naval assets at INS Jatayu. This decision dovetails into Modi government’s strategy to use its island territories to project power in the Indo-Pacific in support of maritime security of the region.

While India is already developing its force capability in Andaman and Nicobar Islands with new facilities at Campbell Bay in Great Nicobar, the move to upgrade the Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands will not only protect commercial shipping but also lead to infrastructure upgrade and tourism in the island territories.

The geographical location of Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands and the Andamans and Nicobar Islands is such that India can safeguard the maritime trade routes while countering the challenge of rapidly expanding Chinese People's Liberation Army-Navy and their supplicants in the Indian Ocean.

The main commercial shipping route from Suez Canal or Persian Gulf to South East Asia and beyond goes through the nine degree channel (between Lakshadweep and Minicoy) and the ten degree channel (between Andamans and Nicobar Islands).

The carrier task forces of INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant while enroute to Minicoy Islands will be a sight to behold as they will be accompanied by destroyers, frigates and submarines. Such level of force projection has never been seen in the past.


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In addition to it's proximity to SLOCs, the upcoming base on Minicoy is also important keeping recent events in mind because it's the closest Indian-administered atoll to the Maldives. It's only ~150 kms from the nearest Maldivian atoll, and about ~450 kms from the capital Male.

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