NEW DELHI • India has based a guided missile corvette in the Andaman and Nicobar islands for the first time, according to media reports.
The deployment of the INS Karmuk at the islands comes less than two months after alarm bells were sounded in New Delhi over the detection of a Chinese submarine tender close to the strategically located archipelago, which pointed towards the presence of People's Liberation Army navy submarines in the area.
The islands are situated north-west of the Strait of Malacca, offering control of a so-called choke point that is one of China's greatest marine vulnerabilities.
"This is the first time in the history of the Andaman and Nicobar islands that a missile corvette is being based. This is a concrete step towards realising the Indian navy's perspective plans of transforming Port Blair into a strategic maritime naval base," a defence official told the Press Trust of India news agency. The deployment of the corvette would enhance the Indian navy's offshore surveillance and maritime patrolling capabilities around the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Commissioned in February 2004, the INS Karmuk has a complement of 14 officers and 130 sailors. It is equipped with state-of-the-art navigation, communication and radar systems, and its arsenal includes surface-to-surface missiles, a main gun and a secondary armament.