Updated: Dec 22, 2022
While India and Indonesia are not likely to officially accept it, but the two countries which are important in the regional sphere especially Indo Pacific are slowly building up an integrated deterrence by establishing joint frameworks, dialogues, surveillance posture and naval operational activities such as CORPAT or coordinated patrolling of the maritime boundary.
Developing linkages between the Andaman and Nicobar Islands though economic and trade corridor also having a strategic import is part of the process.
ANI Sabang Linkage
Thus India and Indonesia held the second edition of the Joint Task Force (JTF) meeting on development of connectivity between Andaman & Nicobar Islands (ANI) and Aceh Province, Indonesia took place in Port Blair on 19 December 2022. Sabang port in Aceh province of Indonesia which is about 90 nautical miles from Indian islands of Andaman & Nicobar as per a Ministry of External Affairs Press Release.
During the meeting, the Heads of Delegation took stock of the progress made and the challenges faced in developing connectivity between ANI and Aceh, since the first JTF meeting in 2019 said the MEA
To unleash the economic potential of ANI and Aceh, the two sides also discussed ways to further promote trade, tourism and people to people contacts between the two regions, and the status of projects for port related infrastructure in and around Sabang as per a Ministry of External Affairs Press Release.
To improve trade and investment, the JTF agreed to enhance opportunities for interaction between business chambers and potential investors on both sides. With international tourism reviving after the pandemic, the two sides agreed to encourage sail tourism, cruise ship visits, and interaction between tour operators as per a Ministry of External Affairs Press Release.
Taking note of the rich marine resources in the region, they also agreed to cooperate in capacity building of fishing operators and learn from each other’s experience. The JTF also discussed ways to enhance academic cooperation and cultural linkages between ANI and Aceh.
The development of connectivity between ANI and Aceh is a key element of the Shared Vision of Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, agreed in May 2018 by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and President of Indonesia, Mr Joko Widodo.
Importance of ANI Sabang
Sabang is astride the Straits of Malacca and an important choke point on the critical Sea Lines of Communication connecting the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. The connectivity established will have strategic significance as the axis lies astride the Straits of Malacca.
Any disruption of marine traffic at this point can impact countries like China, as major chunk
of energy & trade passes through the Malacca Strait.
The 39th edition of India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (IND-INDO CORPAT) between the Indian Navy and the Indonesian Navy was caried out from 08 – 19 December 2022.
Indian Naval Ship (INS) Karmuk, an indigenously built Missile Corvette participated in the pre-deployment briefing at Belawan, Indonesia.
The CORPAT was executed along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) from 15 to 16 December 2022 and concluded with a debrief at Port Blair. Along with INS Karmuk, L-58 (indigenously built Landing Craft Utility vessel) and Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft participated in the CORPAT.
KRI Cut NyakDien, a KapitanPattimura Class Corvette, represented the Indonesian side.
India and Indonesia have been carrying out CORPATs twice a year since 2002, with an aim of keeping this vital part of the IOR safe and secure for commercial shipping, international trade and conduct of legitimate maritime activities.
CORPATs help build understanding and interoperability between navies, and facilitate institution of measures to prevent and suppress Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, maritime terrorism, armed robbery and piracy.
It further helps enhance the operational synergy by exchange of information for prevention of smuggling, illegal immigration and for conduct of Search and Rescue (SAR) operations at sea. India and Indonesia have traditionally enjoyed a close and friendly relationship covering a wide spectrum of activities and interactions.
Dissuasion is strengthened through integration. India Indonesia framwork of linking up Andaman and Nicobar with Aceh respectively creates such a dissuasion framework even though this has not been expressly stated as such.