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Indian warships to sail through South China Sea

New Delhi(IANS): India’s warships will be on a two-month-long deployment in South East Asia, visiting ports in the region and passing through the South China Sea — which China claims as its backyard threatening in the past warships of other nations from entering the area.

India’s Visakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command is sending four of its warships to ports in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and other nations in the region, as part of its annual long distance deployment of its surface combatants.

The warships that will be on the tour are a Rajput-class destroyer, a Shivalik-class frigate, a Kora class corvette and a tanker.

“The deployment is part of Indian Navy’s annual plans to deploy warships on long distance friendly port calls on both, the eastern and western seaboard,” a navy officer said here Friday.

The four warships will leave on their voyage early next week and the deployment will culminate in a port call in Japan about a month from now. The warships will also do port calls during their return voyage back to the home base.

“To visit Japan, the warships will take the South China Sea route,” the official said, to a pointed query.

In August last year, an Indian warship transiting the South China Sea was threatened by a Chinese national over the open radio, claiming the vessel was in Chinese territory and that it should leave the area immediately.

Asked about the territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the experience of a warning from China last year for venturing into the South China Sea, the Indian Navy officer reiterated that the ships will sail in international waters while passing the area and hence there was freedom of navigation there under United Nations laws of the seas.

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