In a extremely uncommon, although not unprecedented transfer, the US Navy performed a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) within the Indian Ocean area, and its warship entered India’s Unique Financial Zone (EEZ) close to Lakshadweep with out looking for prior consent from India. The US Navy stated that the operation was according to worldwide regulation and challenged India’s “extreme maritime claims”.
In an announcement issued on April 7 by the seventh Fleet of the US Navy, which is the biggest ahead deployed naval fleets of the US, it stated that its Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) “asserted navigational rights and freedoms roughly 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s unique financial zone, with out requesting India’s prior consent, according to worldwide regulation”.
“India requires prior consent for navy workouts or maneuvers in its unique financial zone or continental shelf, a declare inconsistent with worldwide regulation. This Freedom of Navigation Operation upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful makes use of of the ocean acknowledged in worldwide regulation by difficult India’s extreme maritime claims.”
The assertion stated that the US forces “function within the Indo-Pacific area every day” and “all operations are designed in accordance with worldwide regulation and reveal that the US will fly, sail and function wherever worldwide regulation permits”.
Nevertheless, the assertion additionally harassed that the US forces conduct “routine and common Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs), as we now have finished previously and can proceed to sooner or later” and these operations are “not about one nation, nor are they about making political statements”.
There was no quick assertion from India.
The operation comes at a time when navy cooperation between India and the US is rising, and the 2 navies have been concerned in a joint train, together with navies of Japan, France and Australia within the jap Indian Ocean area, within the La Pérouse train between April 5 and April 7 led by the French Navy.
Additional, it occurred simply weeks after US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin visited India as a part of his first worldwide tour since US President Joe Biden’s administration took over in January and conveyed Biden administration’s “dedication in direction of strengthening the bilateral defence relations between the 2 international locations”.
However it’s price noting that this isn’t the primary time that US Navy has performed such an operation in India’s Unique Financial Zone. The US Division of Defence publishes an annual Freedom of Navigation Report which is “an unclassified report figuring out the extreme maritime claims that US forces operationally challenged”, the FON Report for 2020 acknowledged.
The report talked about that the US Freedom of Navigation Program was formally established in 1979 and “consists of complementary diplomatic and operational efforts to safeguard lawful commerce and the worldwide mobility of U.S. forces”.
“‘Extreme maritime claims’ are makes an attempt by coastal States to limit unlawfully the rights and freedoms of navigation and overflight and different lawful makes use of of the ocean. These claims are made by legal guidelines, laws, or different pronouncements which can be inconsistent with worldwide regulation as mirrored within the Legislation of the Sea Conference. If left unchallenged, extreme maritime claims may completely infringe upon the liberty of the seas loved by all nations,” the report acknowledged.
India was not among the many international locations talked about within the 2020 report the place the US forces “challenged” the claims. India was final talked about within the 2019 report, together with 21 different nations that included China, Russia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Saudi Arabia. Earlier than that, India was talked about within the 2017 and 2016 reviews as effectively.
In keeping with the UN Conference of the Legislation of the Sea (UNCLOS), international locations can’t stop ships, both industrial or navy, from utilizing the Unique Financial Zone. However Indian legal guidelines mandate that any overseas navy wants to tell earlier than conducting any exercise in India’s EEZ.
As per the maritime claims reference guide of US Navy’s Decide Advocate Common’s Corps, India’s Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Unique Financial Zone & Different Maritime Zones Act of 1976 requires overseas warships to supply discover earlier than getting into territorial sea. The reference guide for India, until 2016, talked about that the US “doesn’t acknowledge this declare” and protested it in 1976, 1983 and 1997. Additional, it talked about that the US forces “performed operational assertions” in Monetary Years “1985 by 89, 1991 by 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2007, and 2011”.