One by one, the four Indian warships cruised into a sleepy harbor in the country’s remote Andaman and Nicobar islands, fresh from visiting Southeast Asian capitals and conducting exercises in the disputed South China Sea.
The arrival of the warships at Port Blair earlier this month symbolizes how an island chain better known for its beaches and diving is quietly becoming a key plank in New Delhi’s strategy to counter China’s growing naval presence in the Indian Ocean.
In interviews in New Delhi and Port Blair, the archipelago’s administrative hub, Indian defense officials outlined plans to transform a modest military base into a strategic listening post with strengthened air force, navy and army capabilities.
While some of the officials noted that earlier expansion plans had largely faltered, they said there was fresh energy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wants to reassert New Delhi’s traditional dominance of the Indian Ocean.
All agreed the chain’s location was its biggest asset in watching China’s navy. Read more