NEW DELHI — India has completed infrastructure development work on one of the Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Indian Ocean to improve monitoring of the Malacca strait. The new base will be operated at Campbell Bay by the Indian Navy.
Named Naval Air Station Baaz, the base has been built with a longer air strip able to handle Indian Air Force transport aircraft, U.S.-built C-130Js and other smaller Russian transport aircraft.
The base will monitor the Malacca strait, through which 40 percent of the world’s oil moves on vessels from the Arabian Gulf. The Andaman and Nicobar islands also house India’s tri-command, which keeps an eye on movements of Chinese ships in the region.
India has operational air bases at Diglipur, Port Blair and Carnic in the Indian Ocean, but Campbell Bay will greatly improve India’s maritime surveillance abilities, an Indian Navy official said. Campbell Bay is likely to be formally launched this month, Navy sources said.
India is concerned about certain developments in the Indian Ocean. Addressing the Naval Commanders Conference in May in New Delhi, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony said, “The security situation in our immediate neighborhood has become really complex. Considering the challenges in the Indian Ocean region, it is essential to maintain high levels of operational preparedness at all times.
“On the one hand, there are some political developments, and on the other hand, a number of other factors are a cause for worry and need to be factored into our preparations, both in the short term and long term.”
The Navy’s military doctrine of 2004-05 for the first time admitted that it would focus on littoral warfare preparedness. The Navy began acquiring littoral warfare assets, including the landing platform dock INS Jalashwa, formerly the U.S. Navy’s USS Trenton.