Instances of Chinese submarines lurking in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has increased manifold in the last few years, the Indian Navy has told the government. And, at any given point there is at least one Chinese submarine in the region.
China, much to the surprise of the global maritime community, deployed submarines in the Persian Gulf region in 2012 apparently to counter piracy. Chinese submarines have been spotted in docking in the Karachi Harbour in May 2016.
Top Naval sources told HuffPost India that although more Chinese Submarines have been spotted in the IOR, "they haven't showed any hostile intent. They move through the International waters".
"They are testing our capabilities and we too keep a watch on their movements," the senior officer said. The officer however refused give out the exact number of Chinese submarines that have been spotted. "Revealing numbers would also give away our operations details," the officer said.
Earlier this week Admiral Harry Harris Commander of the US Pacific Fleet had warned about the growing Chinese influence in the IOR. He was in New Delhi to attend the 2nd Edition of the Raisina Dialogue. On the sidelines of the dialogue he told reporters "there is sharing of information on Chinese maritime presence in the IOR".
The newly acquired US made P8I - a long range maritime surveillance aircraft – of the Indian Navy have been monitoring movements of the Chinese submarines closely from the sky. India has eight P8I aircraft and is acquiring four more.
China has a fleet of about 60 submarines that includes at least five nuclear powered and four nuclear powered submarines that are capable of firing nuclear weapons. Unlike the conventional submarines, nuclear submarines have an unlimited range. They can, therefore, be deployed for extended periods and are difficult to track.
In comparison, India has a much smaller submarine arm. Besides, all of India's conventional submarines are over 25 years old. The India Navy will get its first new submarine – INS Kalvari - after a gap of almost three decades. The INS Kalvari – a conventional diesel-electric submarines designed by French defence giant DCSN and manufactured in Mazgaon Docks - is likely to join the Navy in June 2017. The next submarine of the same class – INS Khanderi - is expected to join the Navy in December 2017. India, as of now, has 13 conventional submarines and two nuclear powered submarines.