Monday, July 30, 2012
India will formally open a key naval station on Tuesday, named INS Baaz (Hawk) in the southern part of the Andaman & Nicobar chain of islands. It will boost the Navy’s ability to keep an eagle eye on the critical maritime choke-point : the Strait of Malacca.
The southern most islands of India are closer to Indonesia than mainland India and will help India gain strategic supremacy in the region. The new base will also boast of an upgraded air base that will be able to operate the newly inducted Hercules C-130J Super Hercules which are meant for special forces’ operations.
INS Baaz clearly overlooks the Strait of Malacca from across the Aceh in Indonesia. With this new addition to the already powerful Indian navy, India can kickstart operations if maritime activities in the region are threatened. The Strait of Malacca were once heavily infected with piravy but now the Indian and Indonesian navies monitor it for criminal activities by jointly patrolling their maritime borders.
This new base of the Indian Navy comes at a time when the US is re-balancing its force levels from the Atlantic to Asia-Pacific and will base at least 60% of its naval assets in the Asia-Pacific region. The Strait of Malacca acts as a key link between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean connecting Asia and Africa to East Asia, Australia and the US.
The Indian Navy already operates bases at Port Blair and Car Nicobar in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands chain. INS Baaz is 300 nautical miles south of Car Nicobar naval base and has given the Indian Navy a much wider reach to effectively deter any aggression in the region.