Indian Ocean Developments

Shashank

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Seychelles allows India military infra on island

NEW DELHI: Overcoming a hiccup, India and Seychelles signed a revised agreement that will allow India to build military infrastructure on Assumption Island, that will expand its strategic reach in the Indian Ocean.
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar signed the agreement in Victoria on Saturday.

In a statement, Jaishankar said, "India and Seychelles have drawn up a cooperation agenda that covers within its purview joint efforts in anti-piracy operations, and enhanced EEZ surveillance and monitoring to prevent intrusions by potential economic offenders indulging in illegal fishing, poaching, drug and human trafficking. The cooperation is further exemplified by the operationalisation of the Coastal Surveillance Radar System in March 2016, and our commitment to augment Seychelles' defence assets and capability. "

After meeting Jaishankar, the island nation's President, Danny Faure, said "Today we will sign a revised version of the Agreement for the development of facilities on Assumption Island. This project is of utmost importance to Seychelles, and it attests to the kinship and affinity that exists between our two countries. We are proud to have India as a partner in realising our development aspirations."

The agreement had been signed in 2015 during the visit of PM Modi but it ran into trouble because it had not been ratified by the Seychelles parliament by the previous president, James Michel. The first sign that the agreement was in trouble came in August 2017, when Faure said in a press conference that it would have to be re-negotiated. "We would like to relook at the agreement which does not have a legal statute on the Seychelles side. But for India, it has a legal statute. We have to go back to the drawing board."

That took Jaishankar to Seychelles in October, and the two sides restarted discussions on amendments to the agreement. The negotiations were completed after the Seychelles opposition party gave a thumbs up to it.

Faure worked with the opposition and after including several amendments cleared it with his cabinet on January 22. A statement after the Seychelles cabinet meeting said, "Cabinet agreed on the main purpose of the agreement which is to provide a framework for assistance to the Government of Seychelles by the Government of India to enhance the military capabilities in control and maritime surveillance of our EEZ, protection of our EEZ and the outer islands and search and rescue in the region for the benefit of air and shipping traffic." After the signing, the agreement would be ratified by Seychelles parliament. The ratification is expected to be a formality because the new agreement has been agreed to by both government and opposition.

The agreement is very important for India, as it works hard to mark a military presence on both Seychelles and Mauritius (Agalega island), in its drive to extend its strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean.

The Faure government put the brakes on the agreement with India in 2017 — after the 2016 elections, Faure's party, People's Party lost their majority in parliament, which went to the opposition coalition, Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS). Its leader, Indian-origin Wavel John Charles Ramkalawan was important to build political consensus on the agreement.
During his recent visit to India as part of the PIO parliamentarians conference in New Delhi, Ramkalawan indicated that a consensus had been achieved and the deal would be done shortly. The signing of the agreement is among the last actions by Jaishankar, who will be replaced by Vijay Gokhale as foreign secretary.

The importance of the agreement this time is that it will be more solid, having full political approval from both ruling and opposition parties in Seychelles.

Seychelles allows India military infra on island - Times of India
 
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Trailing China, a new defence deal with France gives India a foothold in Indian Ocean
PRANAB DHAL SAMANTA 31 January, 2018

Column2-1-696x464.jpg
Illustration by Peali Dezine

Indian ships and naval assets can now move across from the Pacific to Singapore, Andamans, Diego Garcia, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Djibouti, onwards to Oman.

India is all set to firm up a defence logistics agreement with France, just like the LEMOA with the United States. The move will allow India access to French military bases in the Indian Ocean and the Horn of Africa, and round off another critical part of enhancing its military presence in these waters to counter China.

The agreement, which is expected to be signed during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India in early March, was firmed up around the time New Delhi worked out the fine-print with Seychelles to build and operate a military base there.

What’s important to understand, however, is the bigger picture which is evidently falling in place, and why it’s important not to stop just here.

The approach
There are essentially two major frames to this strategy – bases which India will build, and bases or ports that its forces can access.

On the first count, India moved on Assumption Island in Seychelles and Agalega islands in Mauritius, both on the outer stretches of Africa, with an intent to monitor big shipping traffic moving across the Indian Ocean and also towards the Horn of Africa and to the Persian Gulf.

In both these places, India will build infrastructure and operate bases with adequate safeguards to the sovereignty of the country concerned.

The other big proposal in this folder, which is under consideration at the highest levels, is a possible base in Oman. That would expand Indian presence to the mouth of the Persian Gulf. However, the entire project would entail a massive expenditure that the government is now going through with a toothcomb.

The next category is access India will get by way of agreements with other countries.

The LEMOA with the US provides India access to Diego Garcia, the biggest American base in the Indian Ocean, besides Guam, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

In the same way, the logistics agreement with France will allow India access to the strategically important French base in the Reunion Islands near Madagascar. This is typically the French area of colonial influence, where another opening will be the French facilities in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) already operates a military base here, its first such base overseas.

Another agreement India signed as part of this maritime strategy was with Singapore two months ago at the Defence Ministers’ Dialogue. Through this understanding, India can dock its naval platforms in Singapore for longer periods, use its facilities, and even conduct maritime surveillance missions in the South China Sea.

Put together, all of this completes a bigger jigsaw, much of which is now falling into place. As a result, Indian ships and naval assets can move across from the edge of the Pacific, Singapore down to the Andamans, Diego Garcia, then on to Mauritius, Seychelles, and Djibouti, onwards to Oman.

This forms the entire arc from the Pacific to the mouth of the Persian Gulf, essentially forming the expanse now termed as the ‘Indo-Pacific’. Australia, too, is said to be interested in pursuing a logistics agreement of the kind the US has and now France will have with India.

So, what emerges is a group of interoperable navies collaborating to use one another’s bases in order to build a more effective security architecture in the Indo-Pacific.

India will obviously service and station troops in bases that it will build and operate. The idea should be to increase the number of foreign bases in this category. And here is where, the government will have to find the finances and political muscle to see it through.

China’s lead
There should be no doubt that India has to make up for lost time and opportunity on this front. While this strategy may look impressive, the fact is China has moved far ahead, threatening to negate Indian influence in its traditional areas of dominance.

Maldives is a good example of how China has moved literally into India’s backyard to build a whole port city with a possible base. This, along with its port in Gwadar, Pakistan, provides a perfect entry into the Arabian Sea and down to the Indian Ocean.

The Hambantota port in Sri Lanka is, for all practical purposes, now leased to China. This has forced India to go deeper south in the Indian Ocean towards Mauritius.

But India must not stop there or become dependent on the US or France. It must explore possibilities in Madagascar, which is like a junction point in the Indian Ocean where routes diverge.

Also of big value are the large under-sea data cables in the area, which are constantly being probed by Chinese submarines. China is now able to mount more under-sea missions in the Indian Ocean due to better port access, another cause of big concern.

While Seychelles and Mauritius are good starts, what India must ensure is more such agreements and better delivery on the ground. The much delayed Chabahar project in Iran, which was meant to be India’s answer to Gwadar, should serve as a constant reminder on how poor execution can neutralise any strategic advantage or play.

Link: Trailing China, a new defence deal with France gives India a foothold in Indian Ocean
 

RATHORE

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_Anonymous_

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Yea, it's actually a better fit on that thread - I just couldn't find the right thread/sub-forum for it when I found the article.

You know your problem. You think too much . Just post wherever you want . Including in the National Politics Section . Just look at infowarrior . He mixes history , current affairs , mythology , religion , etc into one heady brew and posts it where ever he wants out here without a care in the world . Wonder why you fret about where to post it .
 
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RATHORE

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You know your problem. You think too much . Just post wherever you want . Including in the National Politics Section . Just look at infowarrior . He mixes history , current affairs , mythology , religion , etc in one heady brew and posts it where ever he wants out here without a care in the world . Wonder why you fret about where to post it .

LMFAO that's true, but if we all turn into him then God save this forum :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 

Shashank

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Chicoms trying to create trouble in return for Maldives ?

Planned Indian Military Base In Seychelles Stirs Controversy

VICTORIA, SEYCHELLES: A plan for India to build a military base on an outlying Seychelles island has won favour among the archipelago nation's politicians, but some hostility from its people.

The base on Assumption Island is to be funded by India and shared by the two countries' militaries.

The deal was struck in principle in 2015 during a visit to the Seychelles by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but progress since has been slow.

The government of Seychelles, based in Victoria on Mahe Island 1,135 kilometres (705 miles) northeast of Assumption, says the base will help coastguards to patrol its 1.3 million square kilometre (500,000 square mile) exclusive economic zone for illegal fishing, drug trafficking and piracy.

Currently, the remote coral island has a tin shack post office, an air strip and almost no people; it is less than seven kilometres long, has a high point just 30 metres (100 feet) above sea level and is covered in bird excrement.

But its location lends it strategic importance for monitoring shipping in the Mozambique Channel.


Small island, big investment

India plans to invest $550 million dollars (446 million euros) in building the base to help it ensure the safety of its vessels in the southern Indian Ocean. It also says the base will be a resource for other shipping nations.

"Assumption is very close to the Mozambique Channel where much of the international trade is transiting, and not just for India but for other countries as well, and our interest is that our trading vessels are safe," said India's ambassador in Victoria, Ausaf Sayeed.

India has had a military cooperation agreement with the Seychelles since 2003 and the deal would give it use of the Assumption base for up to 30 years. Indian soldiers would be deployed on the island and help train Seychelles' troops.

But ratification of the 2015 agreement has been slow with a new, amended pact only signed between the two countries on January 27.

"What we did in relation to the first agreement is to clarify some points that could give rise to litigation," said Frank Ally, the Seychelles' attorney general.

He said these included a prohibition on any nuclear uses of the island or weapons storage. India is also not allowed to use Assumption in war.

Seeking to allay fears, the government has made available to the public some details of the classified defence agreement.

Weekly protests
Nevertheless, the project remains controversial with small weekly demonstrations in the capital.

Indian presence in the Seychelles is a sensitive matter. Some fear an influx of Indian workers who, they say, might come to dominate the economy, while others consider a foreign power building a military base an affront to sovereignty and national pride.

"The Seychelles can make its own military base, I am against any foreign military presence!" said Guilmert Corgat, a businessman in Victoria who attended a town hall meeting on the plan in late February.

"If this deal is so good for the Seychelles, why don't we hold a referendum?" asked Alexia Amesbury, a lawyer.

During the discussions, foreign minister Barry Faure was forced to insist the government was not giving the island away, "because Assumption belongs to the Seychelles".

Opponents of the plan also cite Assumption's relative proximity to Aldabra atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to the world's largest population of giant tortoises.

Environmentalists worry about the possible impact of a large military presence so close to an ecosystem that has survived precisely because of the absence of people.

Despite the dissenting voices, Ausaf Sayeed remains positive that parliament will ratify the new agreement when it reopens this month.

With the opposition - like the government - broadly in favour of the base, though against too many concessions to India, the diplomat's optimism may be well-founded.

COMMENTS"I think politicians and people who see the positive side of this cooperation will be in favour, and I am convinced that it will pass," he said.
 

Shashank

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Chini are behind this game.
I was thinking this is all done from Parliament side and we will start construction anytime soon. Something or the other keeps on creating roadblock for our efforts in this. If this gets ugly we should make is very very ugly for chinese in maldives. Maybe a military intervention ?
 

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The Indian Navy welcomed the PLA Navy to the Indian Ocean with a tweet and followed up with another that showed a map of Indian warships in the region

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In two clever tweets, the Indian Navy on Tuesday sent a subtle but powerful message to the Chinese navy: You are being watched in the Indian Ocean region or IOR.

At a time the Indian Air Force is rehearsing war-time manoeuvres over the IOR under Exercise Gaganshakti 2018 with its Sukhoi-30 and Jaguar aircraft armed with anti-ship weaponry, the navy put out a tweet, along with photos of Chinese warships, welcoming the People’s Liberation Army Navy to the IOR.

The Indian Navy, on its official Twitter handle tweeted, “#MaritimeDomainAwareness @indiannavy extends a warm welcome to the 29th Anti-Piracy Escort Force (APEF) of PLA(N) in Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Happy Hunting.”

The task force left the Chinese port of Zhoushan on April 4 for the Gulf of Aden to carry out anti-piracy missions off the Somali coast. It consists of “700 officers and soldiers, dozens of special operation soldiers, and two helicopters on board,” according to a report on the PLA’s official website.

It is no secret that the deployment of Chinese naval units in the IOR is closely monitored by the navy, but it is perhaps the first time that the latter has taken to Twitter to drive home the message.

In a second tweet half an hour later, the navy put out a map of the IOR reinforcing how a fleet of 50 combat-ready Indian warships was carrying out round-the-clock surveillance of the area.

“#MissionBasedDeployments From Persian Gulf to Malacca Straits & from Northern Bay of Bengal to Southern Indian Ocean to East coast of Africa @indiannavy with 50 ships on vigil 24X7 keep our Area of Responsibility (AOR) safe… Anytime, Anywhere Everytime,” the navy tweeted.

View image on Twitter


SpokespersonNavy@indiannavy
#MissionBasedDeployments From Persian Gulf to Malacca Straits & from Northern Bay of Bengal to Southern Indian Ocean to East coast of Africa @indiannavy with 50 ships on vigil 24X7 keep our Area of Responsibility (AOR) safe. @indiannavy Anytime, Anywhere Everytime @nsitharaman
12:52 PM - Apr 17, 2018
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It was in October 2017 that navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba gave his stamp of approval to the mission-based deployment pattern to position combat-ready warships and aircraft along critical sea lanes of communications and choke points in the IOR.

Lanba ordered the scaling up of the navy’s maritime footprint amid growing sightings of Chinese naval assets, including submarines, destroyers and intelligence-gathering vessels, in the IOR.

“The tweets were meant to send the message that every Chinese move in the IOR is being duly noted,” said a senior navy officer.

Navy officials said anti-piracy patrols and freedom of navigation were the reasons cited by China for its rising presence in the IOR, an area of strategic significance for India and the playground for the latest leg of ongoing Gaganshakti-2018 mock war.

“Extensive missions would be flown by the Su-30 and Jaguar in conjunction with the navy’s P-8I (submarine hunter planes) using long-range weapons to refine and practice offensive and defensive tactics against maritime targets,” an IAF spokesperson said.
 
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Ashwin

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French President announces 3-pronged security partnership with India for Southern Indian Ocean

NEW DELHI: French President Emmanuel Macron announced a three-pronged security partnership with India in the southern Indian Ocean in the backdrop of China’s growing ambitions in the region.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced a three-pronged security partnership with India in the southern Indian Ocean in the backdrop of China’s growing ambitions in the region.

Macron stated that India and France were sharing the analysis of joint maritime security in the southern Indian Ocean, working on a joint maritime surveillance in the region and looking at possible deployment of an Indian Navy maritime patrol vessel in Reunion Island from the first quarter of 2020.

In an indirect reference to China’s designs on the western and southern Indian Ocean Region, the French President said in his speech, “We must protect the Great Indo-Pacific space for no hegemony to reign. A security presence in the region is essential for building this freedom in sovereignty and for establishing a common agenda.”

“Together with India, we have been working with PM Modi on a shared ocean vision and strengthened our operational cooperation for stability and security in the region....It's an unprecedented movement, a very profound change. A few years ago we had never planned to engage with our Indian friends here in the same way as the operations we did recently. This is the reality of this strategic agenda that we share,” he said.

Macron said, “This common security agenda in the region is an agenda of maritime surveillance, protection of our marine areas, construction of a joint agenda to avoid any form of hegemony or intrusion and it is noted that the France is the 2nd largest maritime power in the world.”

The French President’s comments came at the event where ministers of India, France and Vanilla Islands (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles in the western Indian Ocean) met to explore economic and development partnership. India was represented by the minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan at the first such ministerial meet.

India, in partnership with France, is keen to focus on port development, blue economy, trade, connectivity, tourism, skill development, hospitality and healthcare in this resource-rich region, said people aware of the matter. India is also eyeing gas deposits in the Mozambique Channel near Vanilla Islands.

The joint statement issued after Modi’s meeting with Macron on August 22 had indicated enhancement in the Indo-French partnership in the western Indian Ocean.

“Based on a shared commitment to maintaining the freedom of navigation, particularly in the Indo-Pacific zone, maritime security cooperation between France and India is a domain of excellence in their strategic partnership,” said the joint statement. surveillance in the region and looking at possible deployment of an Indian Navy maritime patrol vessel in Reunion Island from the first quarter of 2020.

In an indirect reference to China’s designs on the western and southern Indian Ocean Region, the French President said in his speech, “We must protect the Great Indo-Pacific space for no hegemony to reign. A security presence in the region is essential for building this freedom in sovereignty and for establishing a common agenda.”

“Together with India, we have been working with PM Modi on a shared ocean vision and strengthened our operational cooperation for stability and security in the region....It's an unprecedented movement, a very profound change. A few years ago we had never planned to engage with our Indian friends here in the same way as the operations we did recently. This is the reality of this strategic agenda that we share,” he said.

Macron said, “This common security agenda in the region is an agenda of maritime surveillance, protection of our marine areas, construction of a joint agenda to avoid any form of hegemony or intrusion and it is noted that the France is the 2nd largest maritime power in the world.”

The French President’s comments came at the event where ministers of India, France and Vanilla Islands (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles in the western Indian Ocean) met to explore economic and development partnership. India was represented by the minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan at the first such ministerial meet.

India, in partnership with France, is keen to focus on port development, blue economy, trade, connectivity, tourism, skill development, hospitality and healthcare in this resource-rich region, said people aware of the matter. India is also eyeing gas deposits in the Mozambique Channel near Vanilla Islands.

“Based on a shared commitment to maintaining the freedom of navigation, particularly in the Indo-Pacific zone, maritime security cooperation between France and India is a domain of excellence in their strategic partnership,” said the joint statement.

French President announces 3-pronged security partnership with India for Southern Indian Ocean
 
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Ashwin

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India looks to deploy naval liaisons at Madagascar, Abu Dhabi for information exchange

This will be in the overall realm of improving linkages and become repository for all maritime data

After joining the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) as Observer in March, India is looking to post Navy Liaison Officers at the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC) in Madagascar and also at the European maritime surveillance initiative in the Strait of Hormuz for improved Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).
“We are working closely with France who is a pre-eminent member of IOC to post a Naval LO at the RMIFC in Madagascar. We are also working on posting a Naval LO at the European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) in Abu Dhabi,” a defence source told The Hindu. “This will be in the overall realm of improving linkages of the Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) in Gurugram with other IFCs and become the repository for all maritime data in the IOR,” the source said. The LOs are expected to be posted in the next few months.
The RMFIC functions under the aegis of the IOC of which India became an Observer in March 2020 along with Japan and the United Nations. The IOC is a regional forum in the southwest Indian Ocean, comprising five nations — Comoros, France (Reunion), Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles. China and the European Union (EU) have been Observers in the IOC since 2016 and 2017, respectively.
The Navy LO is expected to be posted at EMASOH by July and at the RMIFC by September or October, the source said. India has an LO at the IFC in Singapore for over four years now.
The EMASOH headquarters is composed of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and French officers and based at the French naval base in Abu Dhabi. The aim is “to monitor maritime activity and guarantee freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.” On February 5, the initiative was declared operational by the French Ministry of Armed Forces.
The Navy set up the IFC-IOR in December 2018 within the premises of the Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram to track maritime movements in the region. France became the first country to deploy a Liaison Officer at the IFC-IOR followed by the U.S. and several other countries including Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom have announced their intention to post LOs. Currently, infrastructure is being built to house the foreign officers. Pre-fabricated structures are being built and are expected to be ready by the end of the year, a second source said.
Of late, India has signed a series of white shipping agreements, Logistics Support Agreements (LSA) and maritime cooperation agreements with several countries. For instance, at the virtual summit, India and Australia announced a joint declaration on a shared vision for maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in which they agreed to “deepen navy-to-navy cooperation and strengthen MDA in the Indo-Pacific region through enhanced exchange of information”.
As reported by The Hindu in October last, the IFC-IOR is coordinating with similar centres across the globe. These include Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Centre (VRMTC), Maritime Security Centre- Horn of Africa(MSCHOA), Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery (ReCAAP), Information Fusion Centre-Singapore (IFC-SG), and International Maritime Bureau - Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC).
 
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RISING SUN

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Oceans' extreme depths measured in precise detail​

Scientists say we now have the most precise information yet on the deepest points in each of Earth's five oceans.
The key locations where the seafloor bottoms out in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and Southern oceans were mapped by the Five Deeps Expedition.
Some of these places, such as the 10,924m-deep (6.8 miles) Mariana Trench in the western Pacific, had already been surveyed several times.
But the Five Deeps project removed a number of remaining uncertainties.
For example, in the Indian Ocean, there were two competing claims for the deepest point - a section of the Java Trench just off the coast of Indonesia; and a fracture zone to the southwest of Australia.
Global map

The rigorous measurement techniques employed by the Five Deeps team confirmed Java to be the winner, but this lowest section in the trench - at a depth of 7,187m - is actually 387km from where previous data had suggested the deepest point might be.

Likewise, in the Southern Ocean, there is now a new place we must consider that region's deepest point. It's a depression called Factorian Deep at the far southern end of the South Sandwich Trench. It lies 7,432m down.
There is a location in the same trench, just to the north, that's deeper still (Meteor Deep at 8,265m) but it's technically in the Atlantic Ocean. The dividing line with the Southern Ocean starts at 60 degrees South latitude.
Mariana Trench: Deep ocean trenches occur where Earth's tectonic plates meet
image copyrightAtlantic Productions for Discovery Channel
image captionMariana Trench: Deep ocean trenches occur where Earth's tectonic plates meet
All of the new bathymetry (depth data) is contained in a paper published in the Geoscience Data Journal.
Its lead author is Cassie Bongiovanni from Caladan Oceanic LLC, the company that helped organise the Five Deeps Expedition, which had as its figurehead the Texan financier and adventurer Victor Vescovo.

media captionDr Heather Stewart: "We found over 100 new seamounts in the South Sandwich Trench"
The former US Navy reservist wanted to become the first person in history to dive to the lowest points in all five oceans and achieved this goal when he reached a spot known as the Molloy Hole (5,551m) in the Arctic on 24 August, 2019.
But in parallel to Mr Vescovo setting dive records in his submarine, the Limiting Factor, his science team were taking an unprecedented number of measurements of the temperature and salinity (saltiness) of the seawater at all levels down to the ocean floor.

How deep is deep? Graphic

This information was crucial in correcting the echo-sounder depth readings made from the hull of the sub's support ship, the Pressure Drop. The reported depths therefore have high confidence, even if they come with uncertainties of plus or minus 15m.
In this context, refining the observations any further will be extremely hard.
The wider context here is the quest to get better mapping data of the seabed in general. Current knowledge is woeful. Roughly 80% of the global ocean floor remains to be surveyed to the modern standard delivered by the likes of the Five Deeps Expedition.
"Over the course of 10 months, as we visited these five locations, we mapped an area the size of continental France. But within that was an area the size of Finland that was totally new, where the seafloor had never been seen before," explained team-member Dr Heather Stewart from the British Geological Survey.
"It just shows what can be done, what still needs to be done. And the Pressure Drop continues to work, so we are gathering more and more data," she told BBC News.
Factorian Deep

image captionFactorian Deep is at 60.4 degrees South, and therefore just in the Southern Ocean
All of this information is being handed over to the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, which aims to compile, from various data sources, a full-ocean depth map by the end of the decade.

It would be a critical resource. Better seafloor maps are needed for a host of reasons.
They are essential for navigation, of course, and for laying underwater cables and pipelines.
They are also important for fisheries management and conservation, because it is around the underwater mountains that wildlife tends to congregate. Each seamount is a biodiversity hotspot.
In addition, the rugged seafloor influences the behaviour of ocean currents and the vertical mixing of water. This is information required to improve the models that forecast future climate change - because it is the oceans that play a pivotal role in moving heat around the planet.

media captionVictor Vescovo spoke to the BBC on completion of his historic five dives
And if you want to understand precisely how sea-levels will rise in different parts of the world, good ocean-floor maps are a must.
The BBC made contact at the weekend with the Pressure Drop, which is currently sailing west of Australia in the Indian Ocean.
Team-member and co-author on the new paper, Prof Alan Jamieson, is still aboard. He said the research ship was making discoveries every time it sent instrumentation into the deep.
"For example, there are some major animal groups in the world for which we just don't know how deep they go. Just last month, we recorded a jellyfish 1,000m deeper than 9,000m, which was the previous record by us. So we've now got jellyfish down to 10,000m.
"Three weeks ago, we saw a squid at 6,500m. A squid at that depth! How did we not know this? And during the Five Deeps Expedition, we added 2,000m on the depth range for an octopus.
"These are not obscure animals; it's not like they're some sort of rare species. These are big animal groups that are clearly occupying much larger parts of the world than we thought," Prof Jamieson said.
Alan Jamieson
image copyrightFIVEDEEPS.COM
image captionProf Jamieson's team profiled water temperature and salinity at all depths
The deepest place in the Atlantic is in the Puerto Rico Trench, a place called Brownson Deep at 8,378m. The expedition also confirmed the second deepest location in the Pacific, behind the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. This runner-up is the Horizon Deep in the Tonga Trench with a depth of 10,816m.
 

RISING SUN

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Sri Lanka, India, Maldives to cooperate on maritime safety and security, counterterrorism under the Colombo Security Conclave
Aug 08, Colombo: A trilateral security meeting held between Sri Lanka, India and Maldives last week has identified maritime safety and security, Terrorism and Radicalization, Trafficking and Organized Crime and Cyber security as the “four pillars” of cooperation.


IHC08082021_1.jpg


Sri Lanka hosted the first Deputy National Security Adviser (NSA) level Meeting of the Colombo Security Conclave virtually on 4 August 2021, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said on Friday.

The meeting was chaired by General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defense Staff and Commander of Army of Sri Lanka and Pankaj Saran, Deputy National Security Adviser of India and Ms. Aishath Nooshin Waheed, Secretary, National Security Adviser's Office at the President's Office of Maldives participated.

Bangladesh, Mauritius and Seychelles participated as Observers and were represented by Lt Gen Waker ul Zaman Personal Staff Officer, Armed Forces Division, Prime Minister's Office, Bangladesh, Mrs. Pusmawatee Sohun, Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office, Mauritius, and Col Michael Rosette, Chief of Defense Forces, Seychelles People's Defense Force.

The meeting discussed specific proposals for cooperation and each of the four identified pillars including holding regular interaction, joint exercises, capacity building and training activities.

All participants stressed the vital role of cooperation and coordination in dealing with contemporary security challenges in the region, as well as capacity and capability enhancement among themselves, in keeping with the spirit of regional cooperation.

The decision to establish Colombo Security Conclave was established in November 2020 at the NSA-level meeting of India, Sri Lanka and Maldives to forge closer cooperation on maritime and security matters among the three Indian Ocean countries.

The Deputy NSA level meeting held on 4 August 2021 was a follow up to the decisions taken at the NSA level meeting under the expanded format of the Colombo Security Conclave.

The meeting was marked by convergence of views on common security threats and was held in a warm, positive and forward looking manner, the High Commission said.
Sri Lanka : Sri Lanka, India, Maldives to cooperate on maritime safety and security, counterterrorism under the Colombo Security Conclave
 
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Amarante

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#Comoros-China

(BharatShakti.in, jun.04)

Will Comoros Be China’s Next “Djibouti” In Indian Ocean Region?​

In the past seven years, China created and developed its first overseas military base for the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) at Djibouti. Djibouti is strategically situated astride the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait in the northern Indian Ocean, which separates the Gulf of Aden from the Red Sea, and functions as a “choke point” for maritime traffic flowing to the Suez Canal. After Xi Jinping’s elevation as Chairman of the Central Military Commission, and later as President of PRC in 2013, Beijing steadily negotiated with the Djiboutian administration, capitalising upon its investments in Djibouti’s commercial port at Doraleh, to clinch a deal in 2016, for the creation of an exclusive military facility. China claimed that the facility will primarily serve to support military logistics for Chinese naval and military assets deployed in the Gulf of Aden for counter-piracy operations, and also other activities including peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster relief operations in Africa, and West Asia.

The base is described by China as a “logistics support facility” and consists of a large, fortified space of about 0.5 square kilometres, enclosing a military heliport, storage facilities, training area, barracks for troops and a military hospital. An extended pier has been constructed in the exclusive military port adjacent and connected to the base, which is capable of docking the largest of PLA Navy’s ships and submarines.

In April 2021, General Stephen Townsend, Commander of US Africa Command (AFRICOM), in his testimony before the US House Armed Services Committee (HASC) highlighted China’s ambitions of expanding its military presence in Africa.


“Their first overseas military base, their only one, is in Africa, and they have just expanded that by adding a significant pier that can even support their aircraft carriers in the future, … “around the continent they are looking for other basing opportunities, he was quoted saying.”
he was quoted saying.”

Early this year, in March, in his statement to the US Senate Armed Forces Committee, Townsend brought out that China had advanced plans to establish a second location along West Africa’s Atlantic Coast. By Townsend’s estimate, Chinese military facilities and technical collection sites in Africa will allow Beijing to project power eastward into the Middle East and Indo-Pacific Theaters and west into the Atlantic, by 2030.


Steadily, China has diversified the use of the facility at Djibouti, using it for docking large amphibious troop carrier vessels, replenishment ships and similar naval platforms capable of supporting naval task forces for the expeditionary role. Beijing’s successful military basing venture at Djibouti, beginning with innocuous commercial engagement for developmental purposes, provides a flavour of more such arrangements that could possibly emerge in other parts of the world.

Interestingly, a story similar to Djibouti appears to be playing out in the island nation of Comoros in the Southern Indian Ocean, located close to the strategic Mozambique Channel – a critical waterway which carries about 30 per cent of global tanker traffic.

The Union of Comoros comprises an archipelago of three islands – Grand Comore, Anjouan and Moheli. Comoros and France have a sovereignty dispute over the islands of Mayotte (also known as Maore), and Glorioso Islands, all of which are claimed and controlled by France.

Comoros is one of the least developed nations in Africa, and with an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) per capita income of about US$ 700, is among the world’s poorest nations.
Moroni (in Grand Comore), Mutsamudu (in Anjouan) and Boigoma (in Moheli) are the three chief ports in Comoros. The port of Moroni is located on the west side of Grand Comore, approximately 300 kilometres from the African mainland. The port has a shallow depth of water due to which, merchant vessels with larger draught must anchor outside the port and cargo is transported through barges.
To overcome these limitations, in March 2018, the government of Comoros signed a commercial contract with China Road and Bridge Corporation for the construction of a deep-water port by dredging and redevelopment of the existing port of Moroni. The work for dredging and expansion of the Port of Moroni is reportedly yet to begin. The estimated cost of the project is the US $ 165 million.

On the island of Moheli, in March 2015, the China Communication Construction Company was awarded the contract to build the Port of Moheli. The work took two years to complete at a cost of US $ 149 million. In addition, a greenfield deep-water port is reportedly planned for development in Sereheni, a location 3 kilometres south of Moroni. This is expected to cater to vessels of up to 30,000 gross tons. Given China’s overwhelming involvement in infrastructure projects in Comoros, there are strong grounds to believe that China could be Moroni’s preferred partner for this strategic port development in future.

In fact, China has been Comoros’s largest developmental partner for many years, steadily replacing France, which enjoys pre-eminent economic and military influence in the southwestern Indian Ocean region. China has undertaken key infrastructure projects in Comoros like the rehabilitation of the International Airport at Moroni, construction of highways and roads in the three islands of the archipelago, renovation of the Peoples Palace in Moroni, construction of a large stadium at Moroni, installation of undersea fibre optic network cable between Comoros and East Africa and multiple housing projects.

China has also consistently helped Comoros to combat malaria in a major way. Seen together, Chinese assistance has gone a long way in a creating positive impact in a country with a population of less than 900,000. Further, many infrastructure projects of potential interest to China feature in the Comorian government’s priority action plan, including the expansion of ports of Mutsamudu, Moheli, and Moroni, as also the expansion of airports in Anjouan and Moroni.

Early this year, in keeping with the long-standing tradition followed by Chinese Foreign Ministers of visiting countries in Africa in the early days of the new year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Comoros on 6 January 2022. During his engagements, Wang Yi described Comoros as the “Country of the Moon” in the Indian Ocean and recalled that China was the first country to recognise the independence of Comoros and establish diplomatic relations with it.

References to cooperation initiatives with Africa announced at the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and their synergy with the “Emerging Comoros Plan for 2030” were repeatedly made by the Chinese side. China is among the few countries which maintain a resident Ambassador with a permanent diplomatic mission in Comoros. The two sides also enjoy healthy defence ties, with China regularly offering training courses to Comorian military personnel.

On its part, Comoros cherishes its close ties with Beijing and staunchly adheres to the “One China” policy. It was one of 53 nations, which backed China’s controversial Hong Kong national security law at the United Nations, in June 2020.

From China’s perspective, the similarity in political conditions and the geostrategic situation between Djibouti and Comoros is striking. Like Djibouti, Comoros is a small coastal state in need of significant developmental assistance and particularly in need of maritime development for boosting its own economy.

Both Djibouti and Comoros are ruled by political leaders who are strong and experienced political personalities in their respective countries. President Azali Assoumani of Comoros, a former Chief of Staff of the National Development Army, is currently undertaking a fourth term as the President of Comoros. Like the long-serving President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, he first assumed the office of the President in 1999.

China, which is on the lookout for suitable geography to create a new “support facility” for its military in the Southern Indian Ocean, would find it hard to miss the opportunity to work closely with a strong leader like Assoumani. The yet to-be-implemented redevelopment and expansion plan for the Port of Moroni could well be a test case to assess Chinese strategic motivations in Comoros.

In comparison to China, India’s engagement with Comoros offers a contrast of sorts, despite the island nation being situated in India’s extended neighbourhood. While India has extended its Indian Ocean outreach to Comoros in recent years through generous donations of food aid and medical support by naval ships during the COVID-19 pandemic, its developmental footprint in Comoros remains very modest.

Unlike China, there are no infrastructure projects to write home about for the Indian Embassy to Comoros, located in distant Antananarivo, in Madagascar. In October 2019, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu became the highest-ranking Indian dignitary to ever visit Comoros. In an extraordinary gesture, the Union of Comoros conferred the ‘Order of the Green Crescent’, its highest civilian honour on the Indian Vice President.

During the visit, the two countries signed six Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) for cooperation in various fields including defence, health and medicine, arts and culture and tele-education (e-Vidya Bharati) and tele-medicine (e-Arogya Bharati). Seen in conjunction with India’s vision of “SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region” for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), there is no dearth of conceptual foundation to develop India-Comoros ties to the next level. Nevertheless, low prioritisation of ties with Moroni in its regional diplomacy and absence of a permanent diplomatic mission in Comoros are inter-linked factors, which South Block would do well to take note of.

In the backdrop of the expression of interest by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi early this year in creating a “council of Indian Ocean Island nations” and the more recent articulation of the idea of the “Global Security Initiative” by the Chinese leadership, prescient observers would not be remiss in noting the very real possibility of Comoros emerging as the next “Djibouti” in the Indian Ocean.

In Beijing’s calculus of revisionism and expediency, impoverished but geographically blessed Comoros fits the bill as a valuable strategic partner. It could well be a matter of time before China’s innocuous-looking developmental agenda in Comoros steadily metamorphoses into a strategic footprint in the form of a quasi-military real estate, leading to a permanent military presence.
 
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RISING SUN

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Exclusive Satellite Pics: China's New 'Mission Indian Ocean' Targets India​

New Delhi:
Satellite images sourced by NDTV indicate that China's naval base in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, is now fully operational and supports Chinese warships deployed in the Indian Ocean region.

China's base in Djibouti is its first overseas military base, built at a cost of $590 million and has been under construction since 2016. It is located by the strategic Bab-El-Mandeb Strait which separates the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea and guards the approach to the Suez Canal, one of the most critical channels of international commerce.

China's Djibouti base "is built in a fortified way, with layers of defences which appear almost medieval, like a modern day colonial fort. It is clearly designed to withstand direct assault,'' says Naval Analyst HI Sutton of Covert Shores.

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The Chinese Type-071 landing ship is the backbone of China's amphibious assault forces, used for logistics missions and transporting vital supplies. With inputs from Damien Symon (Satellite image 2020 Maxar Technologies) High-res here
Significantly, the images from imagery provider Maxar show a Chinese Yuzhao-class landing ship (Type 071) docked along a 320-metre-long berthing area located near an apron that supports helicopter operations.


"The base appears fully operational though there is more construction work likely to take place," says Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha (retired). "They can positively dock ships on both sides of the breakwater. Though the width of the jetty is narrow, it is large enough to take on a Chinese helicopter carrier."

The ship, identified as the Changbai Shan, is a large 25,000-tonne vessel designed to embark up to 800 soldiers and a combination of vehicles, air-cushioned landing craft and helicopters. It is thought to have been accompanied by a frontline Chinese destroyer when it entered the waters of the Indian Ocean this year.

"The Type-071 landing ship is very large and can carry many tanks, trucks and even hovercraft," says HI Sutton. "A fleet of these form the backbone of China's amphibious assault forces, although even more impressive ships are now joining the fleet. Its size and capability means that it is also used for logistics missions, transporting vital supplies."

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Chinese Type-071 amphibious warfare ship is of the class of flagship capable of embarking on a range of military and non-military missions. High-res here
Yuzhao-class ships are designed to operate as flagships of a Chinese task force engaged in a range of operations from amphibious assaults to humanitarian support. The Chinese Navy has inducted five ships of this class with three more in various phases of fitting-out before they are commissioned.

Images of the fully operational base in Djibouti come at a time when China has docked the 25,000-tonne satellite and ballistic missile tracking ship Yuan Wang 5 in the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota. Sri Lanka belatedly allowed China to dock the ship for replenishment after initially asking Beijing to defer its arrival after concerns voiced by New Delhi.

"With a robust tracking, sensing and communication relay system the Yuan Wang 5 is certainly capable of detecting foreign satellites, aerial assets and missile systems. This allows the vessel to support Chinese military missions far from home," says Damien Symon, a senior researcher with The Intel Lab who has been tracking the movement of the ship as it entered the Indian Ocean.

"The presence of the vessel in the Indian Ocean region allows it to monitor space events located away from the Chinese mainland while possibly providing an extended real time communication network to its overseas bases and ground assets, such as deployments in Djibouti, peacekeeping forces in Africa and anti-piracy maritime missions."

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Chinese Yuan Wang-5 satellite tracking ship is presently being replenished at Hambantotta Port, Sri Lanka. With inputs from Damien Symon (Satellite image 2020 Maxar Technologies) High-res here
For India, there is a possibility of China being able to directly to track key satellite assets. "With the current India-China border crisis seeing no immediate resolution, the deployment of the vessel could possibly allow for monitoring of Indian reconnaissance assets that were reportedly tasked for surveillance missions around border surveillance, terrorist infiltration detection and anti-terrorist operations."

China's presence in both Sri Lanka and Djibouti are closely linked to its economic investments in both countries under its long-term 'Belt and Road Initiative'. Beijing holds the majority of Djibouti's debt which is reportedly more than 70 per cent of the gross domestic product, or GDP, of the African nation. And has effectively taken possession of the Hambantota port through the creation of a joint entity with Sri Lanka for a lease of 99 years. This is after Colombo was unable to repay $100 million annually for the $1.7 billion loan that it had taken for the construction of the port, the first phase of which was completed in 2010.

Former Indian Navy Chief Admiral Arun Prakash says New Delhi should be under no illusion about China's maritime intentions or capabilities. "It's now been 14 years since they established a standing patrol off the Horn of Africa. Initially there was a lot of scepticism of their ability to maintain a distant presence. But they have shown that they can do this. They have kept ships on station for six to nine months."

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Map of Indian Ocean Region showing Chinese naval bases in Djibouti, Gwadar (Pakistan) and the China-leased port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka. High-res here
China's presence in Djibouti is part of a detailed plan to establish its presence in the Indian Ocean, directed not just at the US Navy which has major bases in the Persian Gulf but also at the Indian Navy, the next largest in the region. The port of Gwadar in Pakistan will also be key to any further expansion in the region.

"What we see happening today is a manifestation of a well-planned, deliberate strategy of spreading their maritime influence," says Admiral Prakash.


This strategy has already seen China operate nuclear-powered attack submarines in the Indian Ocean and may see carrier battle groups operate in these waters as well, a reality that top US Navy commanders have sounded an alert on.

130 Comments When asked about this in 2017, Admiral Harry Harris Jr., then the Commander of the United States Pacific Command, told NDTV, "There's nothing to prevent them from sailing in the Indian Ocean today."