This article is written by Preeti Pallavi Jena, from the school of law, KIIT University, Odisha. This article talks about maritime security in India and other countries, the threats regarding it.


Jay Benson, who is a Senior Researcher of OEF Research, focuses on the issues relating to international conflicts and governance. The work that he does is based on maritime security and civilian protection.

Maritime security has been a huge concern all over the world. India is trying its best to deal with these and take measure steps for our benefit. There are a lot of threats happening everywhere. For addressing these securities international efforts are required. This has been done in 2 ways. The first one is by introducing world requirements for technical issues and the second by establishing legal frameworks in respect of maritime security offenses.

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IMO gives a huge effort in maritime security for commercial shipments. The first maritime vision by the Indian navy was presented in the naval plans paper in 1948. Indian navy consists of destroyers and cruisers around the small ships and aircraft with the objective of protecting and preserving India’s sea lanes for communication purposes.

The laws that are dealing with maritime security issues, especially with piracy cases are examined and many problems were also identified. China can take the help of legislation for preventing piracy and for maritime terrorism on ships. Implementation of the ISPS code came in July 2004, where the practices in the US could have implications on Chinese policymaking. By doing this all of China will contribute to the promotion of maritime security. This maritime security is now focused on an international perspective. The improved and developed security can establish the viability of commercial trade, it improves the prospects of the open market in China.

Challenges of maritime security

Maritime security issues differ across countries

The maritime security problems are dealt with nationally as well as globally. This also differs due to the reachability, capacity, and also economic development.

Lack of visibility and awareness

Maritime security is not a concern in each and every country. There is a limited need for public awareness. Maritime security is more concerned about land purposes rather than the sea.

The complexity of maritime security

Maritime security is categorized on the basis of its complex nature like piracy, trafficking, smuggling, etc.

Maritime security concerns

Oceans are not controlled like lands, it is available for everyone. Maritime securities are the only ones that can be used anywhere in the world without any interventions. The navy has the power to influence the people for conducting the events happening on the land through its control overseas. In India, this security will make sure about the safety and well being of the trade vessels, like:

  • EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zones);
  • Defenses for state and non-state territory in respect of the national securities; and
  • At the state level, it has the ability to retain a sphere of influence and create stability for the region on which there is a direct threat to the Indian national interest. 

For the whole world, it gives an opportunity to demand in the decision-making areas. In the western part, it’s the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal, and the Red Sea, and in the east are Lombok Strait, Sundra Strait, etc. These points will represent the tactical level that India will look for in the maintenance of the region. In the 1971 Indo-Pakistan conflict, the Navy had played great importance in the sectors of maritime security. The first tactical success came from missile attacks in the Arabian Sea in 1971. Indian Navy entered into the war along with five Alize aircraft. Primary areas as identified by the India Navy are:

  1. The Bay of Bengal and The Arabian Sea.
  2. The choke points that form the Indian Ocean.
  3. The Island areas.
  4. The Persian Gulf for oil supply.
  5. International sea lanes that cross the Indian Ocean region.

Secondary areas

  1. Southern Indian Ocean Region.
  2. The Red Sea.
  3. The South China Sea.
  4. The East Pacific region.

The maritime security concerns come from the threats. These effects on India will be more prominent considering that India is now accepting the obligations in making sure about the Indian Ocean region. Many threats and battles are not being considered because they would fall under the domain of war battling.

Sealine of communications

The SLOCs have been vulnerable to disturbance by various conventional and non-customary threats throughout the years. But, India’s expanding reliance on the oceans for its exchange may require intervention to save or protect these SLOCs from threats. The togetherness of other countries is needed to guarantee the security of these SLOCs in the ocean. India has endeavored with the Indian Navy driving the path from 2002 when Indian ships accompanied US transporters through the Malacca Strait after the assault on USS Cole in Aden. The progressing activity in the Gulf of Aden for the previous decade where the Indian Navy has accompanied ships that everything will be with equal efforts.

Religion instability

In Indonesia, the rebels of the Free Aceh Movement have targeted the natural resources wealth distribution of Aceh coming from resources like aluminum, oil, etc. In Somalia, instability has given the largest piracy threat in the past 2 decades. Another example is the Iran- Iraq war, where the oil trade was affected. Many operations were conducted by the Indian maritime security forces. Such as the Indian Coast Guard Act was passed where the Coast Guards participated in the counter-terrorism operations. During the time of contemporary, the Indian navy was commissioned in various United Nations for keeping peace in the missions. The Indian Navy also sent the homeless Indians from Kuwait during the first Gulf War.


Piracy has created a wave of extensive distress in the whole world. The term is the only action created collectively by the whole community that will reduce piracy attacks. India has accompanied various merchant ships of many countries. 

Somalia formed piracy has indicated: 

  • Descending pattern.
  • Insights have demonstrated an expansion in piracy.
  • To a great extent thefts completed at safe havens.
  • Off the shore of Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia. 

The new choice by the administrations of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines for joint watching is a positive development, which is a step in the right direction. 

India’s obligation against piracy endeavors in the IOR has been underlined by endeavors like the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, which was started by the Indian Naval Force in 2008, and has discovered footing with all the Indian Ocean states in producing components and strategies for battling these threats.


Our Indian Ocean has become the center of the production of drugs. These networks which are originated and created by drug smugglers are to engage in malicious activities such as human trafficking and gunrunning. These network connections are mostly used in the sea route because of the vast and huge coverage.

Maritime terrorism

Our Indian Ocean does not have many incidents regarding maritime terrorism. In October 2002, an Al-Qaeda attack was carried out on a French tanker. The ability to exploit maritime activity for the attacks on the land base is really high. We have witnessed the most famous and disastrous attack by terrorists in Mumbai on 26 November. India has become more serious after all these attacks and has upgraded its monitoring systems to deal with these threats efficiently and effectively. But there is always a potential threat to India.

Opposition of piracy

A huge amount of India’s trade consisting of oil and fertilizers goes through the Gulf of Aden. The ministry of shipping found that through the Gulf of Aden the Indian imports were valued in order of USD 50 Billion. The security and safety of the unhindered continuity of maritime trade is the major concern of the country as it will impact the economy of the country. The Indian Navy opposed the piracy through anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and from then the ships moved continuously. This happened in October 2008 and after this, no ship in India has been hijacked by any pirates anymore. Many other countries also provided protection from piracy after this.

Though for legitimate reasons, the present circumstance further worsened. The maritime Silk Road declared by the Chinese President in 2013 is additionally seen by numerous individuals as a ‘distinction of China’s military ambitions’. The darkness of Chinese strategy and not exactly agreeable confirmations on argumentative issues coupled with the current questions with India has additionally extended a generally existing trust shortfall, further provoking security concerns.

Maritime security matters

In 1982, the time when the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) came into the act, it gave notable rights to the states and also went on to establish some fundamental duties to ensure the safety of activities, the fight against crimes and the protection of the environment at the sea. In the future, it came to light that many states were incompetent to perform their duties which has been proven to be a challenge ever since.

Over 90% of the global trade happens through the sea and millions of cargo get transported every year. Thus, maritime resources are vital for a nation’s economy. The maritime economy holds remarkable opportunities to fight against poverty and secure economic stability. It isn’t just the recognition of economic opportunities that have come to light, but the vulnerabilities and risks have also surfaced in the last decade. 

The international waters are insecure zones. Trade, development, and even human lives could be threatened by the vicious seas. People became aware of the dangers involved in the sector of trading through oceans when piracy came to light on the coasts of Somalia in 2008. The maritime trade routes in the Indian Ocean were under a huge threat.

This wave of pirates made it visible to the world about the many vulnerabilities that revolved around various states and the fact that those states were incompetent to take necessary action against these maritime security threats. The regional countries stood up against this challenge and started taking significant steps towards strengthening maritime security. 

The Somalian piracy incident gave a significant blow to maritime trading but on the upside, countries all over the world started to recognize the importance of the establishment of maritime security. Hence, donations from all over the world started coming in towards helping the incapable countries to establish a force to fight against the threats to maritime security. It has been proved evidentially that maritime security and the blue economy are two sides of the same coin. One of them can’t be focused on while the other is being neglected.


When Vasco Da Gama landed in India, he had exposed India to a whole new western world. This was a huge opportunity for India to extend its sea trade as the Middle East sea route trade contracts had very little impact on their own. Unfortunately, the western world did not resonate with the Indian mindset of that time. As a result, the glorious legacy of maritime trading of the ancient Indian rulers settled down in manuscripts. 

India is a developing nation and has shown significant economic growth in the past few years. Maritime trades provide a large chunk of this increasing economy and the government should fight against any threat against it. But it doesn’t do any good until the threats in the oceans are dealt with. So, the government should come with a framework to strengthen its maritime security. 

It can also enter into an agreement with countries that are near the choke points. The agreement may include information about the maritime activities in the nearby seas and set some united operational procedures like coordinated patrols to tackle any threats detected. Indian legislation should work upon reigniting this mindset and create awareness about the upside of strengthening our maritime security in order to achieve peaceful maritime trades along the sea routes.


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