US Navy Conducts a ‘Uniformed’ Operation inside India’s Exclusive Economic Zone with no prior permission

Story Highlights
  • Indian Government irked by the action
  • Anonymous officials also put forth disagreement
  • US Navy Breach Indian Maritime Security Policy

New Delhi: A disobedience of India’s maritime security policy was reported when the US Navy’s 7th Fleet said it conducted Freedom of Navigation Operations within India’s exclusive economic zone off the Lakshadweep Islands without India’s permission.  

A statement by the 7th Fleet Public Affairs read,” On April 7, 2021 (local time), the USS John Paul Jones asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s exclusive economic zone, without requesting India’s prior consent, consistent with international law. India requires prior consent for military exercises or manoeuvres in its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, a claim inconsistent with international law.”

This statement irked the Indian government since the US is one of its closest strategic partners against China’s maritime expansionism, particularly in the South China sea. 

Responding to this operation of the US Fleet, anonymous Indian navy officers said, “Every coastal country’s EEZ extends to 200 nautical miles (370km) from its shores and the country in question has exclusive rights to all resources in the water, including oil, natural gas and fish. Any military activity in the EEZ requires India’s permission.”

“If you have to do anything in our EEZ, you have to notify us and take permission,” navy chief Admiral Singh said in 2019 after a Chinese vessel that had intruded into Indian waters near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands was repelled. 

DoD’s operational challenges, also known as FONOPs, are designed to challenge coastal state maritime claims that unlawfully restrict navigation and overflight rights and freedoms and other internationally lawful uses of the sea related to these freedoms guaranteed in international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, the statement added.

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