What are two Chinese surveillance vessels up to in Indian Ocean region?

Author:Shishir Gupta 2024-03-11 12:50 13

While Chinese military research-survey-surveillance ship Xiang Yang Hong 3 is currently anchored at Male seaport, another sister ship Xiang Yang Hong 01 is making its way towards the Bay of Bengal for surveillance off India’s eastern seaboard.

Chinese vessel Xiang Yang Hong 1.

The Marine Traffic website shows both the surveillance vessels in the Indian Ocean Region with the pro-China Muizzu government in Maldives allowing the spy ship to be docked at the Male. Since the 01 vessel does not have any listed destination, intelligence inputs indicate that the spy vessel is bound for Sri Lankan port for operational turnaround (OTR). Even though Sri Lanka declared a one-year moratorium against survey vessels last December 22, 2023, inputs indicate that the vessel may dock at Colombo seaport with Ranil Wickremesinghe government under pressure to allow the docking. Both the vessels are being monitored by the Indian Navy.

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According to maritime security experts, the overt purpose of these vessels is to carry out hydrography and hydrological surveys for future PLA Navy submarine operations in the IOR but the presence of Chinese spy vessels off India’s eastern seaboard could also be to monitor missile firing off Balasore test range apart from picking signature of Indian nuclear ballistic missile carrying submarine based near Visakhapatnam. India at present has three nuclear-powered ballistic missile-carrying submarines with the third one currently doing deep sea trials.

Under the garb of hydrography surveys, the PLA vessels are known to pick up noise signatures of Indian submarines as well as monitor the test firing of missiles off ITR at A P J Abdul Kalam island and link the coordinates with Chinese spy satellites.

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Even though the Chinese vessel 01 is operating in international waters, the IOR maritime situation has become complicated for India with Maldivian President Mohammed Muizzu ready to play the cat’s paw for China, Pakistan and Turkey. After taking over as Maldivian President on November 17, 2023, Muizzu, who is a practicing Salafist, made his first trip abroad to Turkey and has now acquired Bayraktar 2 drones for patrolling the Maldivian EEZ. Given that Maldives has no past experience in operating drones, it would be taking help of Turkish armed forces stationed in the littoral nation to fly the drones.

Title:What are two Chinese surveillance vessels up to in Indian Ocean region?