Indian Navy Maritime Doman Awareness profile is expanding by linking with the regional fusion centres in the Western and Eastern Indian Ocean region. When the QUAD IPMDA comes into play a real time picture of the vast ocean reaches with extensive maritime traffic will be available to the Navy.
While the Navy has considerable integral surveillance assets ranging from the P8i Poseidon to two leased Sea Guardian drones and multiple Dornier 228 aircraft, linking with regional fusion centres provides a shared maritime domain awareness (MDA).
The aim is to continuously expand the MDA given vastness of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and large quantum of maritime traffic in this belt.
Towards this end the Navy’s Information Fusion Centre - Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) signed an MoU on 21 Feb 2023 with Regional Coordination Operations Centre (RCOC), Seychelles.
As per the official release of the event, the Indian Navy indicated that the aim of the MOU was to promote collaboration between the two Centres towards enhancing maritime domain awareness, information sharing and expertise development.
The MOU now integrates with the Maritime Security Architecture in the Western Indian Ocean, implemented by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC). The components of these are the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC), the Regional Operations Coordination Centre (RCOC) and the national centres of the seven signatory countries (Comoros, Djibouti, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles).
The IFC-IOR has expanded linkages with several multinational maritime security centres and the current initiative will enable deeper collaboration between the IFC-IOR and RCOC covering the Western Indian Ocean Region.
The aim is to effectively develop a common maritime understanding to counter non-traditional maritime security threats such as piracy and armed robbery, human and contraband trafficking, Illegal Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, arms running, poaching, maritime terrorism, etc with a special focus on the Western Indian Ocean.
The MoU was signed by Captain Rohit Bajpai, Director, IFC-IOR and Capt Sam Gontier, Director, RCOC. The Two directors of RCOC and IFC-IOR were unanimous on the need to enhance information sharing and analysis to cue actions at sea.
The event was attended by the Secretary General and delegates from IOC, High Commissioner of India to Seychelles and senior officers of the Indian Navy.
MDA Sharing Eastern Indian Ocean
In the Eastern Indian Ocean the IFC IOR links with Singapore’s Information Fusion Centre (IFC). The IFC established on 27th April 2009 is a regional Maritime Security (MARSEC) centre situated at the Changi Command and Control Centre (CC2C) and hosted by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
The IFC hosted by the RSN aims to facilitate information-sharing and collaboration between its partners to enhance MARSEC. The Mission of the IFC as per its website is to collect and sense-make relevant White Shipping and maritime information in its Area of Interest, in order to produce accurate, reliable, impartial and actionable MARSEC information for related OPCENs and the shipping community, to achieve Safe and Secure Seas for All.
Background IFC – IOR
As per the press release, IFC-IOR, hosted by the Indian Navy, was established by the Government of India at Gurugram on 22 Dec 2018 to enhance collaborative maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean Region in line with India’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
The Centre aims at strengthening maritime security in the region and beyond, by building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime security information sharing hub for the region. Since its inception, the Centre has established working level linkages with more than 50 nations and multinational/ maritime security centres. In addition to a website, the exchange of information is being undertaken by various means including physical interactions, telephone, fax, email and Video Conferencing.
To enable better correlation, compressed information cycles and timely inputs, IFC-IOR also hosts International Liaison Officers (ILOs) from partner nations.
To date the Centre has hosted ILOs from 12 partner nations - Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Singapore, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
A combined team of Indian Naval personnel and ILOs, duly assisted by civilian MDA Analysts monitors the Indian Ocean and adjoining seas for developing maritime domain understanding by studying the pattern of life in each region.
The team also produces various publications such as Monthly Maritime Security Update (MMSU), Half Yearly Overview and Annual Report. These publications act as a comprehensive source of information on varied maritime issues including maritime piracy, armed robbery, contraband smuggling, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, Irregular Human Migration (IHM) and other maritime threats (non piracy).
Additionally monthly weather forecasts and weather warnings, specific studies/reports are also published by the Centre.
QUAD Indo Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness
At the Tokyo Summit, Quad leaders – President of the United States and Prime Ministers of India, Japan and Australia welcomed a major maritime initiative: the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA).
IPMDA is expected to offer a near-real-time, integrated, and cost-effective maritime domain awareness picture to transform the ability of partners in the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region to fully monitor the waters on their shores and, in turn, to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific. The plan is to fructify in another five years.
IPMDA will integrate the common operating picture of three critical regions—the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region—in the Indo-Pacific connecting the Information Fusion Center-Indian Ocean Region, based in India; the Information Fusion Center, based in Singapore; the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, based in the Solomon Islands, and the Pacific Fusion Center, based in Vanuatu, both of which receive support from Australia.