Indian Ocean 2016: Major Trends
NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 1 | Author: Vijay Sakhuja | February 8, 2016
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To cite: Vijay Sakuja. Indian Ocean 2016: Major Trends. NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 1. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, February 2016, available at
The following five could be considered as major issues in the Indian Ocean in 2016. First, there are visible signs of naval modernization by the Indian Ocean countries who are engaged in developing strong naval power for a number of reasons enunciated above. Both big and small maritime states could acquire a variety of platforms and among these the ‘submarines’ are likely to find favour. However, the smaller countries and island states would be quite content to acquire systems and platforms for maritime domain awareness either individually or in close cooperation with bigger naval powers.
Second, the Chinese naval forays into the Indian Ocean would be more frequent. The choice of Chinese naval platforms (frigates, destroyers, conventional submarines) sent to the Indian Ocean in the past would qualitatively improve and nuclear submarines could become a common sight. This would encourage other nuclear submarine operating navies to deploy additional forces in the Indian Ocean resulting in an aggressive naval posturing in these waters.
Third, extra-regional powers would explore newer access and basing destinations in the Indian Ocean while reinforcing existing set-ups. They would surely offer different incentives such as economic and trade partnerships as also preferential arms sales or transfers.
Fourth, the frequency and sophistication of naval exercises in the Indian Ocean would improve qualitatively to support inter-operability with extra regional navies. The regional navies would certainly benefit from such initiatives which would result in exposure to advance concepts in warfare techniques and operational art.
Finally, the Chinese maritime diplomatic initiatives to support the MSR initiative will continue and a number of East African littorals can be expected to invite China to invest in their maritime infrastructure development projects. Related to that, China is expected to pursue an aggressive politico-diplomatic strategy to obtain access to newer destinations for access and basing in the Indian Ocean which would surely cause enormous discomfort in New Delhi.