The coordinated tri-nation anti-piracy measures by India, China and Japan in the Gulf of Aden will now be tweaked as South Korea joins in to contribute to maritime security in the region. South Korea intends to make the most of its warships to ensure a safe passage for cargo vessels through the region infested with piracy. This collective anti-patrol effort is the first of its kind military joint effort by these nations and South Korea will be the fourth member of a successful tri-nation maritime venture called "Escort Convoy Coordination”.
According to Indian Navy, South Korea has expressed its desire to join the effort being orchestrated by the India, China and Japan since February to secure the Gulf of Aden off Somalia. The proposal from South Korea will soon be formally approved and South Korean warships will become a part of the efforts to ward off piracy and ensure safe passage for vessels.
According to sources, South Korea will participate in the third cycle of patrolling beginning in July and the latest patrol will be headed by the Japanese Navy. In the third cycle of collective patrolling, Indian Navy will be represented by Russian origin stealth frigate, INS Tabar while PLA and Japanese Navy will bring two or three ships each.
Before February, these four nations were operating in and patrolling the region on their own without any synergy in the Gulf of Aden region to ensure the safety of cargo vessels. However, the tri-nation agreement was arrived at after a meeting of the Shared Awareness and De-confliction (SHADE) initiative held earlier this year.
As of now, the tri-nation accord ensures maximum utilization of warships in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) wherein the coordinated movement of merchant ships in convoys will dispel piracy attacks. The IRTC is 890-km-long and 92-km-wide and stretches eastwards from the Red Sea to the Arabian Sea.
Currently, China has two warships and a fleet tanker in the Gulf of Aden while Japan has two warships and a maritime patrol plane operating off Djibouti close to Somalia. As for India, it has one of its warships patrolling the waters off Somalia continuously since October 2008. Since January, as many as 160 ships were escorted by the lone Indian warship.