India’s Drive for a ‘Blue Water’ Navy

David Scott


India’s naval growth has become noticeable since 1998, under successive BJP and Congress administrations. Echoes with Alfred Mahan’s concepts surrounding ‘seapower’ are noticeable. This study considers India’s strategic intentions, naval capability-capacity, and naval deployments. India’s strategic intentions are for a long range ocean-going fleet. Her naval capability-capacity, underpinned by rising budget allocations, includes infrastructure base development, aircraft carrier and modern warship purchase and construction, air reconnaissance and submarine programs. Her naval deployments have taken Indian naval units deep into the Indian Ocean and its littoral; with further deployments into the Gulf, the Mediterranean, the South China Sea and the Pacific. Around this drive, a significant ‘blue water’ fleet is now appearing, to establish secure Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCS) for India’s rising energy needs, to counter China’s growing blue water projection, and to match India’s general desire for a great navy to reflect its Great Power aspirations.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.