The Indian Navy will soon commence operations of an international information fusion centre to collate and analyse data related to maritime security matters in the Indian Ocean, which would also be shared with friendly nations in the region. This was revealed by Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Tuesday during a press conference on the sidelines of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), which is being held in Kochi.
IONS is a multilateral platform, consisting of navies across the Indian Ocean rim, that deliberates on issues of security and humanitarian need with the intention of facilitating cooperation.
Lanba revealed that the international information fusion centre would initially be set up as an “adjunct” to the Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurgaon. He also said that the proposed information fusion centre would move to a dedicated facility once infrastructure to house officers from other nations is ready.
Lanba said the countries that would be allowed to use resources of the information fusion centre would be decided with the Central government.
While the proposed fusion centre is independent of IONS, Lanba said the “idea was to have IONS members and Indian Ocean Littoral states” as part of it. Lanba noted India had already signed agreements with 11 nations to share information on movement of merchant vessels.
The IMAC was inaugurated by then defence minister Manohar Parrikar in 2014 and has been described by the Indian Navy as “the nodal centre of the National Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence Network [NC3I Network], and is a joint initiative of Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Bharat Electronics Ltd to improve coastal surveillance.”
Lanba revealed that the Indian Navy and Coast Guard would lead a nationwide exercise on maritime security in January. The exercise, called Sea Vigil, would involve all security agencies in coastal states and island territories. Lanba described Sea Vigil as a “pan-India exercise that would be conducted over a 36-hour period and would include all agencies in coastal areas”.
Admiral Lanba also touted the green initiatives of the Indian Navy in a question related to climate change. “All our naval stations are being made green stations where carbon footprint is as low as possible,” Lanba said, adding that the Indian Navy had also experimented with biofuels on auxiliary vessels.