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Indian Navy to commission Porbandar base INS Sardar Patel on May 9


NEW DELHI (PTI): INS Sardar Patel, the latest naval base of Indian Navy, will be commissioned in Porbandar this week with the aim to beef up security along the vast coastline, which is a "key vulnerability" in the security calculus of the country.

In view of the enhanced operational tempo along the coast of Gujarat due to the growing maritime security challenges, there is requirement of gradually enhancing infrastructure, Navy sources here said.

"The commissioning of INS Sardar Patel on May 9 is one of the steps being taken by the Navy in this direction," they said, adding it will enable Navy to qualitatively augment its infrastructure and organisational effectiveness in Gujarat.

This would also improve the logistic support being provided to the Indian Navy units deployed in the Northern Arabian Sea, including along the International Maritime Boundary Line with Pakistan.

Gujarat is a frontline maritime state of India with the longest coastline of 880 nautical miles, besides sharing 532 kms of land border with Pakistan.

Over the preceding decade, there has been a significant growth in the maritime infrastructure along the coast of Gujarat, the sources said.

Many ports have come up along the coastline, which collectively handle 300 million tons of cargo annually, constituting approximately 30 per cent of the total cargo handled in the ports of India.

In addition, there are 12 single point moorings (SPMs) in the Gulf of Kutch, through which about 120 million tons of crude oil is supplied to various refineries on the coast and in the hinterland, constituting 71 per cent of the oil import into the country.

"The creation of considerable infrastructure along the coastline makes them vulnerable from sea, not only during hostilities but also during peacetime.

"Therefore, the state of Gujarat constitutes a key vulnerability in the security calculus of the country. The events of 26/11 (Mumbai attacks) have clearly established the threat to the maritime infrastructure in the state from sea, not only during hostilities but also in peacetime," they said.

In the past few years, there has been an exponential increase in the Navy's presence and operations in the North Arabian Sea off Gujarat.

Due to the economic importance of Gujarat, the Navy conducts its annual Defence of Gujarat Exercise (DGX) with participation of other agencies, such as Indian Coast Guard, Indian Air Force and state authorities.

The Navy also forward deploys its units; both at Porbandar and Okha, and its units visit other ports in Gujarat regularly.

In order to accord greater focus to the coastal and maritime security in the North Arabian Sea, Navy plans to base ships in the ports of Gujarat, besides augmenting air assets at Naval Air Enclave, Porbandar, the sources said.

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