TRANSCRIPT | Building Maritime Partnerships with Ocean Technologies
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TRANSCRIPT | Building Maritime Partnerships with Ocean Technologies

By Rear Admiral Dr. S. Kulshrestha (Retd.)
Indian Navy

This is a transcript of a presentation delivered by the author on Mar 03, 2016 at
 GEO-INTELLIGENCE ASIA 2016 India Expo Centre & Mart, NOIDA, India

TRANSCRIPT | Building Maritime Partnerships with Ocean Technologies

Namaskar, thank you Chair, distinguished speakers and enlightened audience, my talk today will focus on the concept of "Building Maritime Partnerships with Ocean Technologies". The architecture of the concept is very much feasible. The Indian Ocean is a host to 38 countries and has the most prolific of oil and trade transit routes. Its resources include abundant amounts of fish, hydrocarbons, and minerals. Polymetallic nodules and polymetallic massive sulphides are the two main mineral resources found in the Indian Ocean. Polymetallic nodules contain nickel, cobalt, iron, and manganese and are found at depths of 4000m to 5000m. The polymetallic massive sulphides (PMS) contain copper, iron, zinc, silver, and gold. South Africa and Mozambique abound in coastal sediments; which contain titanium and Zirconium; tin placer deposits are available off the coasts of Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. Major Initiatives in Ocean Science and Technology by Government of India includes the followings:

Sea Bed Surveys: Indian agencies had carried out reconnaissance mapping of ~85.7% of offshore area within the territorial waters (TW) and >98% of the seabed within the Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ, by March 2011. Placer deposits. These are accumulation of valuable minerals formed by gravity during sedimentary processes, the survey has found two promising zones namely, 210 sq km on the west coast and 923 sq km on the East Coast (Off Andhra and Orissa Coast). Relict Marine Sand. Survey of various blocks off Kollam, Ponnani, Beypore, Chavakkad etc have confirmed the presence of relict sand in an area of 13750 sq km. Lime Mud Deposits. These have been found at a depth of 180- 1200 m off Gujarat coast and at depth of 100-200 m off Andhra Coast. 

Phosphatic Sediments: These have been found at depths of 200- 1000 m off Gujarat coast and at a depth of 100-200 m SE of Chennai. Phosphorite nodules. The concentration of P2O5 in nodules is between 15.6 – 18.6% and is 9.8% in phosphate rich lime mud. Oolites and Phosphate (>5%) in lime deposits have been found off Vengurla. The nodules along with lime mud have been found at depths of 300-550 m off Gujarat coast. Phosphorite in nodules has been found off Nagapattinam at depths of 45-412 m. Manganese Nodules. Ferro manganese encrustations have been located off Batti Malva in the Andaman Sea. Micro-manganese nodules have been found west of Lakshadweep at depths of 2800-4300 m. 

Other Programmes: The Government of India has commenced implementation of the Ocean Science and Surveillance, OSS, under Ministry of Earth Sciences. The main aim of the OSS program as defined includes; [providing a suite of ocean information and advisory services (IAS) for the coastal population; promoting research for sustainable utilization of marine living resources, assessment of health of coastal waters of India; conducting multi-disciplinary surveys for coastal protection measures to mitigate from natural and man-made disasters; establishment and sustaining coastal and oceanic observation networks; and forge cooperation with the countries of South Asian region and the Indian Ocean Rim countries for capacity development and addressing of the common coastal issues.

Ocean Data Collection: This is under taken by extensive utilisation of moored platforms. These include, Automatic Weather Stations, the HF Radar Stations on the coast, Indigenous marine surveillance system, Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP) on the coast, tsunami warning buoys, tide gauge stations, wave rider buoys for wave parameter measurements, Research Moored Array for African-Asian- Australian Monsoon Analysis and Prediction (RAMA) mooring, and Equatorial Current meter moorings. Data collection is also carried out through drifting buoys, known as Profiler floats, [important among these are the expendable bathy thermograph and expendable conductivity, temperature and density recorders XBT/XCTD and Argo floats. ARGO floats are part of an international collaboration. These collect temperature and salinity profiles from the upper 2000m of the ocean. ]The Ministry of Earth Sciences also provides various advisory services on, Oil spills, tsunami, forecast of ocean states, fishing zones, and coral reef status. Studies are being carried out in areas such as erosion, shoreline vulnerability, marine living resources (marine ornamental fish breeding technology has been successfully established. 

Important indigenous ocean technologies developed include, [Polar Remotely Operable Vehicle, PROVe, which can carry out exploration up to 500 m depth as well as in polar regions. The Integrated Mining System, which is for utilisation in nodule mining on the seabed. Design of ocean current turbines has also been formalised.] Deep-sea Technologies & Ocean Mining Group at National Institute of Ocean Technology, NIOT, is developing a Deep-sea mining system for harnessing resources from ocean. NIOT in association with M/s Keltron has developed an accelerometer based vector sensor for measuring particle velocity and acoustic pressure. India continues to make emphatic strides in the field of ocean sciences and technology; currently the benefits are accruing to the coastal regions of India by enhancing their security, survivability, and livelihood. This in turn has a positive effect on the GDP of the country. 

Maritime Operations: Maritime operations cover under its ambit a large number of connected activities in addition to mapping and charting required for navigating the open seas. It requires a myriad of environmental information like, tides, current, weather, wind, depth, salinity etc. In addition, it entails actual information regarding ports and harbors, dredging, navigation aids, waterways, restrictions in force, and so on. Advances in research and technology are facilitating increased needs of commerce and transportation in the maritime domain. These together address the issues arising from sustaining the environment as well as security concerns encountered in global commons and on the coasts. Safe and efficient conduct of maritime operations like transportation, search & rescue missions, and naval operations require enhanced and precise forecasting of prevalent marine conditions as well as well as transient short time local phenomenon like storms. 

RADM Dr. S. Kulshrestha (Retd.), Indian Navy at Geo-Intelligence Asia 2016

In view of the above it is my opinion that broadening of the sea horizon is required for transforming the terms ‘Sea watch/denial/ control’ in to ‘Oceanic space watch /denial /control’. It is imperative that holistic perspectives into the information consciousness arena include the oceanic domain awareness as well as it’s connect with India’s security and Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). 

Expanded awareness of the ocean environment for security operations requires improved capabilities in; 
  • Autonomous monitoring of desired ocean parameters in any location for extended time periods; integration of multi-sensor data, including data from a robust, satellite-based global earth observation system; and numerical models to provide now-casts and forecasts for critical parameters.This expansion will require the following second point. 
  • advancing sensor and technology development, particularly for autonomous and persistent observations, as well as for long-term observing systems; expanding real-time or near-real-time data collection on environmental variables and enhancing automated and autonomous bottom-mapping capabilities for change detection.
Indian Information Network (IIN) Concept:

On a conceptual plane the ODA and MDA would become interactive part of the Indian Information Network (say the IIN) as conceptualized on the screen.

Indian Information Network (IIN) Concept by RADM Dr. S. Kulshrestha (Retd.), Indian Navy

The IIN would be an all over encompassing information network with the Ministry of Defence, (MoD) network embedded in it. The MoD network would include networks of all three services including the communication networks, data, storage, security, applications, user & source interfaces etc which would enable free flow of information. The IIN would have interface with ISR sensors and data processing network systems, which would transform raw sensor data in to processed information, it would also contain interfaces with weapon platforms, weapons, and sensors on-board the weapons themselves. 

Navy Wide Net:

The Indian Navy Wide Net work as conceptualized, will have its interfaces with IIN, MDA, MOD network, communication and video links, other civil and information networks, Hardware, network security, applications, user interfaces etc. With respect to platforms, it would have platforms as communication and navigation links, platforms as sensors, platforms as weapons (for anti shipping, ASW , MCM, anti air, special ops etc). The platforms themselves would have interfaces with weapon borne sensors (radar, sonar, proximity fuse sensors, depth, speed etc). This type of network would have all users and sensors interconnected by network without any information intermediary or dependency on dedicated sensor to user circuitry. The IIN would provide an information sharing architecture to enable network centric operations. 

Navy Wide Network Concept by RADM Dr. S. Kulshrestha (Retd.), Indian Navy

Oceanic Information Consciousness Zones (OICZ):

As can be seen from above,setting up such a cohesive, information-sharing network in India is a formidable task. Currently innumerable entities are setting up their parts of information networks, which would eventually be harmoniously interconnected. The allied information sources and ODA are interactively connected. The area, which is relevant, to this talk pertains to collating ocean science data generated by friendly countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). This forms the interlacing reaches for the ODA and enhances the ‘ocean information consciousness zone’ for India. There are many challenges in collection of data at sea as compared to the land-based observatories. Sea presents a hostile and corrosive environment which corrodes/ damages/ destroys sensors and other infrastructure. It is impervious to radio waves and thus large volumes of it remain opaque to observations. High-resolution imagery at great ocean depths is not available. The continuous availability of reliable data over prolonged periods is always doubtful. Marine growth and marine life interferes with functioning of sensors and platforms. Providing continuous power to instrumentation at large distances and depths from the shore is a limiting factor.

Oceanic Information Consciousness Zone Concept by RADM Dr. S. Kulshrestha (Retd.), Indian Navy

Fundamentally due to limitations of resources it is not feasible for any single country to acquire all the oceanic information it requires, safe guard, monitor and maintain the sources at all times. Therefore, it becomes essential to set up and nurture the extended ‘Oceanic Information Consciousness Zones’ in friendly countries in the IOR. This benign approach would benefit the participating country by enriching its information in vital areas of not only security but also fisheries, ocean environment, seabed resources, marine bio diversity, marine life and others. This in turn would enhance productivity and GDP of the participatory nation as well as the prosperity of the region. India could facilitate setting up of Cabled Ocean Science Observatories on the coast as well as at sea at distances say up to 100 km more than the EEZ of the coastal nation under bilateral information sharing agreements, as an addendum to various trade agreements, which India has with almost all of the IOR nations. The areas which the technologies would cover under this would be; robotics including autonomous underwater vehicles; smart sensors; data storage, processing and transfer; advanced computation, modeling and forecasting; under water communications, seabed mining, survey, fisheries, marine life, marine support structures etc. 

The ODA is conceptualised as a comprehensive 3D+ knowledge zone up to India’s EEZ, the OICZ on the other hand is a collaborative approach at sharing oceanic information, processing it as required and archiving it for use at a later date. ODA can be established by a country individually, but OICZ 10 10 requires transfer / sharing of scientific knowledge and technology between nations. Benefits of ODA accrue to the nation whereas OICZ would empower the region. Both are strategic in nature. In my opinion, India should have setup its MDA by the mid 1990s, ODA by 2010, and should attempt to put in place the OICZs by 2020. Now coming to the question of the role of GIS as far as the ocean is concerned. A GIS is an unconventional tool for ocean exploration. It is neither a physical device nor a submersible technology that comes into direct contact with the water. A GIS cannot take us any deeper into the oceans, but it can take us further in terms of our understanding, because of the way it gathers and analyzes information. Given enough data, a GIS can, in fact, create a virtual ocean inside of a computer. 

In recent years, our ability to measure change in the oceans (including open ocean, near shore, and coast) is increasing, not only because of improved measuring devices and scientific techniques but also because new GIS technology is aiding us in better understanding this dynamic environment.

Minicoy Illustration: As a purely academic illustration of wide ranging open source availability of GIS tools , a friend of mine, Rahul Guhathakurta at IndraStra Global has made a very preliminary capacity study of Minicoy to host an airstrip and a small harbor. This indicates the wide swath of ocean technologies that can be shared for benign purposes with Nations in the IOR as also in the Indo Pacific. 

Proximity Map - Minicoy Island | IndraStra Global

Current Island of Minicoy - IndraStra Global

Proposed Minicoy Naval Base - IndraStra Global


India has made significant progress in its quest for understanding the Indian Ocean, both near the coasts and at large distances from the territorial waters. It has a rich bank of oceanic knowledge and technologies, which it can share with nations in the IOR. India can share ocean science knowledge and technologies with nations, which will accrue benefits by enhancing their GDPs. It is in a position to collaborate in setting up ocean observatories on the coasts, in and around the EEZs, and in deep regions beyond the EEZs of the IOR countries. The information and knowledge so acquired and shared, would in times to come, make the Indian Ocean transparent, environmentally sustainable for maritime operations and economically profitable for the IOR. 

About The Author/Presenter: 

The author RADM Dr. S. Kulshrestha (Retd.), INDIAN NAVY, holds expertise in quality assurance of naval armament and ammunition. He is an alumnus of the NDC and a PhD from JNU. He superannuated from the post of Dir General Naval Armament Inspection in 2011. He is unaffiliated and writes in defence journals on issues related to Armament technology and indigenisation.

Cite this Article:

Kulshrestha, Sanatan. "TRANSCRIPT | Building Maritime Partnerships with Ocean Technologies” IndraStra Global 002, no. 03 (2016): 0006. |ISSN 2381-3652|