This research note discusses the growing significance of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the need for enhanced underwater search and recovery (UWSAR) capabilities. The Indian Ocean Region is a critical area for international energy and commerce, and the maritime build-up in the region requires effective UWSAR measures. The research highlights the challenges faced in UWSAR operations, such as sub-optimal performance of sonars in the tropical littoral waters and the lack of indigenous efforts in customizing algorithms. It discusses the basic steps involved in UWSAR, including marking the last known position, modeling and simulation, gathering ground information, finalizing search infrastructure, mobilizing the search operation, and conducting salvage/recovery operations. The article also addresses the challenges and opportunities in implementing SAR conventions and coordinating SAR activities in the IOR. It suggests solutions and a way forward, including the involvement of organizations such as the Indian Coast Guard, the Airports Authority of India, and satellite-tracking systems. The need for comprehensive bathymetric surveying and the study of recent search and rescue operations are also highlighted.
- The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is gaining strategic relevance due to its significance in international energy and commerce.
- Container traffic through the region’s ports has increased significantly, highlighting the economic importance of the IOR.
- The increasing maritime build-up in the IOR exposes vulnerabilities to accidents and losses at sea, necessitating effective underwater search and recovery (UWSAR) capabilities.
- Steps involved in UWSAR include marking the last known position, modeling and simulation, gathering ground information, finalizing search infrastructure, mobilizing the search operation, and conducting salvage/recovery operations.
- The Indian Coast Guard plays a key role in executing/coordinating SAR missions in the Indian Maritime Search and Rescue Region (ISSR).
- Collaboration with organizations like the Airports Authority of India and satellite-tracking systems can enhance SAR capabilities.
- Comprehensive bathymetric surveying and studying recent search and rescue operations are important for improving UWSAR operations.
- The aim is to create a regulatory framework and coordinate SAR operations for the 40 countries present in the IOR.
- There is a lack of indigenous efforts in customizing algorithms and technologies to the local underwater conditions.
- Underwater salvage and recovery operations require highly specialized equipment, which may be available with only a few countries or organizations globally. Ensuring the availability of such equipment for UWSAR operations in the IOR can be a challenge.
- The Indian Ocean is not as well mapped as it should be, and there is a lack of ocean-wide maps incorporating multibeam echosounders and satellite altimetry data. This poses challenges in terms of accurate bathymetric surveying and understanding underwater features.
- Locating the last known position of distressed aircraft and vessels can be a challenge, particularly when relying on primary radar or conventional AIS data.
- Regulatory compliance and adherence to international conventions and agreements.
- Implementing more efficient and accurate tracking systems, such as ADS-B and satellite-based tracking, may require infrastructure development and cost considerations.
- Developing a comprehensive regulatory framework and organizational structure for UWSAR operations in the IOR poses challenges.
- The IOR’s significance in terms of international energy and commerce presents opportunities for economic growth through increased trade and maritime activities.
- Developing indigenous technologies and capabilities for UWSAR operations can lead to technological advancements, innovation, and self-reliance.
- Effective and efficient capability and capacity building in UWSAR operations can enhance the region’s preparedness and response to accidents and losses at sea.
- Collaborating with neighboring countries and international organizations can foster cooperation in conducting SAR operations, sharing resources, and improving overall maritime safety and security.
- India can take a leadership role in SAR operations for the countries present in the IOR by leveraging its expertise, resources, and organizational structure to coordinate and execute SAR missions effectively.
"The IOR is the most critical area globally, in terms of international energy and commerce that crosses these waters and the aim of this project is to act as a reference to help create a regulatory framework for these operations in the IOR and to help India head SAR operations for almost 40 countries present in the IOR."