Post 26/11, challenges of guarding India's sea lanes greater: Antony

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Mumbai, Apr.29 (ANI): Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday said that in the aftermath of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack, the challenge to guard India's sea lanes has increased considerably.

Speaking after the commissioning of the INS Shivalik, country's first indigenous stealth frigate here, Antony said the Indian Navy's challenge to protect the country's sea lanes has increased as the situation across the region is becoming more and more tenuous and dangerous.

"Sea routes in the past also faced threats, now after 26/11 Mumbai attacks, security situation around us and the Indian Ocean and far-off, it is becoming more and more sensitive," Antony said.

He underlined that piracy is fast becoming a menace in the high seas of the region, and said the Indian Navy must be prepared to take on the challenge with full force in order to protect commercial interests also.

" The Indian Navy will have to perform its duty to protect our sea lanes. India's foreign trade is expanding substantially every year. It will have to look after ways and means to protect commercial interests also," Antony said.

Antony noted that with the changing scenario and increasing challenges, the modernisation of the naval force is also very important, and added that the government is aware of its responsibilities in this regard.

" It is our duty to give all our support to the Indian Navy to strengthen maritime security. We are going to acquire more destroyers and frigates for the Indian Navy. So, I am confident that with all these modern equipments and other support, the Navy would not only be able to protect our sea lanes but also others if it is necessary for India's national interest," he said.

Highlighting the importance of the INS Shivalik, the largest stealth frigate in the world, Antony said more than 60 percent of the components fitted in the brand new warship is indigenous, which is a great achievement in itself.

"The importance of this ship is that it is the first Indian made ship of its kind, having more than 60 percent of indigenous components," he said. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

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