INS Jatayu: Lakshadweep Island Gets Its Second Naval Base

The naval detachment on Minicoy island of Lakshadweep has been commissioned as INS Jatayu, an upgraded naval base. This marks an important milestone in the Indian Navy’s resolve to shore up Indian naval infrastructure at the strategic Lakshadweep islands. 

INS Jatayu is the second naval base in Lakshadweep after INS Dweeprakshak in Kavaratti, which was commissioned in 2012. Jatayu was a naval detachment earlier, and after an infrastructure revamp, it is being repurposed into a naval base.

The new base is being commissioned days after PM Modi and Mauritius PM Pravind Jugnauth jointly inaugurated an airstrip and a jetty at the Agalega island off the coast of Madagascar in the western Indian Ocean.


The Western Seaboard

Lakshadweep, “a hundred thousand islands” in Sanskrit, is located off the coast of Kochi, Kerala. The archipelago consists of 36 islands, of which only 11 are inhabited. 

The Maldives lie to the south of the island chain, and Minicoy, the last island of this archipelago, is the host to the new base. This base will help India ensure the security of the Indian Ocean region and provide a base for replenishing vessels and their deployment in the area.

Given the location of Lakshadweep, the island chain has a huge strategic importance for India. Minicoy Island lies adjacent to vital submarine cables reaching India, and ensuring their security is vital to ensuring digital connectivity to the world. Along with its proximity to the 8-degree channel between Minicoy and Maldives and the 9-degree channel between Lakshadweep and Minicoy, the eight and nine-degree channels are vital maritime routes, seeing traffic of more than 40% of global shipments.


An Upgrade From a Naval Detachment To INS Jatayu

The existing detachment, which was under the operational command of the Naval Officer-in-Charge(Lakshadweep), will be repurposed for this upgrade. 

A detachment only has administrative, logistics and medical facilities; INS Jatayu will be upgraded to a naval base with some additional infrastructure, such as an airfield capable of operating both civil and military aircraft and housing for personnel after obtaining environmental clearances.


Augmenting Naval Operations

The Navy’s operational capabilities will be boosted after the stationing of an independent base on the southernmost island of the archipelago. It falls in line with the government’s focus on the comprehensive development of the island.

The base will enhance the operational reach, facilitate anti-piracy and anti-narcotics operations in the western Arabian sea and augment the capability of Indian Navy as the first responder in the region.

Additionally, INS Jatayu will bolster the strength of the western seaboard with an airstrip that can support operations of a range of aircraft, including P81 maritime reconnaissance aircraft and fighter jets. This will extend the navy’s reach far beyond its exclusive economic zone, as India seeks to counter growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean Region.

This comes as India’s relations with the Maldives are under strain after pro-China President Mohammed Muizzu came to power in 2023.


Read more: PM Modi Inaugurates Sudarshan Bridge, India’s Longest Cable-Stayed Bridge


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