KOLKATA: Ships of the Indian Navy that are on patrol in the Malacca Straits are participating in Search and Rescue (SAR) operations for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that has been missing since Saturday with 239 people on board.
Those tracking the aircraft have said that it disappeared over the Malacca Straits while attempting to fly back to Kuala Lumpur from where it took off for Beijing.
The Indian Navy’s satellite Rukmini or GSAT-7 has also been activated to try and pick up any clue that may lead investigators to the missing Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
Indian Navy ships are on routine patrol in the Malacca Straits. Our ships carry out coordinated anti-piracy patrols with the navies of countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. As per the laws of the sea, it is only natural that our vessels will participate in the SAR operations. The ships that have heli-components will use the aircraft for the operations. Though several navies patrol the busy shipping lines passing through the Malacca Straits, India has a strong presence there,” an official said.
The Navy believes that this will also be a good opportunity to try out the Rukmini satellite, which became operational in 2013 and has put up a commendable performance during exercises.
During the recently concluded Theatre-level Readiness and Operational Exercise (Tropex) in the Bay of Bengal, Rukmini was able to network about 60 ships and 75 aircraft seamlessly. The intention of the Indian Navy is to use this geostationary naval communication and surveillance satellite to cover activities up to the Malacca Straits in the east and the Hormuz Strait to the west. Rukmini has a nearly 2,000 nautical mile ‘footprint’ over the Indian Ocean Region, another official said.
“There is no competition involved but this is certainly a challenge. SAR operations are a crucial part of any navy’s duties, particularly if it wishes to achieve ‘blue-water’ status. In Fact, SAR operations was the highlight of Milan 2014, the exercise organized by the Indian Navy at Port Blair in February this year in which several navies from the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean regions participated,” the official added.