India Expands Its Naval Presence in Lakshadweep, 36 Islands Archipelago, Near Maldives

About two dozen Indian Navy sailors stand in a row on a concrete or stone floor, dressed in camouflage uniforms and white hats and holding rifles. The soldiers at the ends and center of the line stand up straight while the ones between them kneel to the ground as they rehearse a demonstration, creating the appearance of a wave or ripple down the line.


On March 6, 2024, the Naval Detachment Minicoy underwent a significant transformation into INS Jatayu, marking a pivotal moment for the Indian Navy’s commitment to enhancing security infrastructure in the strategic Lakshadweep Islands.

Despite India maintaining a naval presence in Minicoy since the 1980s, the upgrade to INS Jatayu effectively elevates it to the country’s second naval base in Lakshadweep, complementing the existing INS Dweeprakshak in Kavaratti, commissioned in 2012.

What is the Strategic Importance of India's Newest Naval Base in Lakshadweep  Islands?

This development follows closely on the heels of Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Pravind Jugnauth of Mauritius jointly inaugurating an airstrip and jetty on the Mauritian island of Agaléga, underscoring India’s strategic engagements in the western Indian Ocean.

Lakshadweep, translating to ‘a hundred thousand islands’ in Sanskrit and Malayalam, encompasses 36 islands spread between 220 km and 440 km from Kochi. Despite their modest size, with only 11 being inhabited and a total land area of 32 sq km, the archipelago holds immense strategic significance for India, situated amidst vital Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs) such as the Eight Degree Channel with the Maldives and the Nine Degree Channel within the Lakshadweep cluster.

The transformation of Naval Detachment Minicoy into INS Jatayu signifies more than just a name change. This upgrade entails bolstering the existing facilities to convert it into a full-fledged naval base, complete with enhanced infrastructure like an airfield, housing, and medical facilities. Plans are underway to address ecological concerns and construct a jetty while also developing a new airfield capable of accommodating both military and civilian aircraft.

INS Jatayu Boosts Indian Presence On Minicoy Island, Lakshadweep - BT TV  BusinessToday

For the Indian Navy, this expansion enhances its operational capabilities in the region, positioning it better to respond to challenges ranging from piracy to narcotics trafficking in the western Arabian Sea. Moreover, the proposed airfield will enable the deployment of various aircraft, including maritime reconnaissance planes like the P8I and fighter jets, bolstering India’s surveillance capabilities and operational reach, particularly amidst heightened geopolitical tensions in the Indian Ocean.

Naval Detachment Inaugurated at Lakshadweep - ADU - Aviation Defence  Universe

The proximity of Minicoy Island to the Maldives, just 500 kilometers away, underscores the strategic imperative for India to strengthen its presence in Lakshadweep, especially in light of recent geopolitical developments. The establishment of INS Jatayu not only fortifies India’s security posture but also aligns with broader goals of fostering comprehensive development across the islands.

Furthermore, INS Jatayu’s upgrade reflects India’s proactive approach towards maritime security and regional cooperation. With the growing importance of the Indian Ocean as a geopolitical hotspot, India’s investments in bolstering its naval capabilities in the region are strategic imperatives.

INS Jatayu: Strengthening India's Naval Presence In Lakshadweep - PWOnlyIAS

The establishment of INS Jatayu also holds economic significance. By enhancing security and infrastructure in the Lakshadweep Islands, India can better facilitate trade routes and maritime commerce in the region. The presence of a robust naval base not only deters potential threats but also instills confidence among regional partners and stakeholders, fostering stability and prosperity in the Indian Ocean.

Moreover, INS Jatayu’s commissioning underscores India’s commitment to upholding freedom of navigation and maintaining maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). As a responsible maritime power, India plays a crucial role in safeguarding international shipping lanes and ensuring the safety of maritime trade, which is vital for the global economy.

INS Jatayu | Lakshadweep Gets Its Second Strategic Naval Base In Minicoy -  YouTube

Additionally, the upgrade of INS Jatayu aligns with India’s broader maritime strategy, which emphasizes enhancing maritime domain awareness, strengthening maritime partnerships, and promoting maritime security cooperation in the IOR. By expanding its naval presence in strategic locations like the Lakshadweep Islands, India aims to assert its influence and contribute to regional stability and security.

Beyond Tourism, Lakshadweep Has Strategic Importance

In conclusion, the commissioning of INS Jatayu as an upgraded naval base in the Lakshadweep Islands marks a significant milestone in India’s maritime security architecture. This transformation not only strengthens India’s defense capabilities but also underscores its commitment to promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region. As India continues to navigate complex geopolitical dynamics in the region, INS Jatayu will serve as a crucial asset in safeguarding India’s maritime interests and advancing its strategic objectives in the Indian Ocean.”

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