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Explained: What is Blue Water Force?

Blue Water Force: The world’s most powerful navies — those that can operate in deep, faraway oceans

Written by Krishn Kaushik | New Delhi | Updated: December 7, 2019 8:37:20 am
Explained: What is Blue Water Force? Navies are classified in terms of colours. (File Photo via Reuters) 

On December 4, Navy Day, the office of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh posted on Twitter: “Indian Navy is the Formidable Blue Water Force. Navy Day Greetings to all Men and Women in White.” In a video presentation about its capabilities, the Navy too, called itself a “formidable blue water force”.

Blue Water Navy: A Blue Water Navy is one that has the capacity to project itself over a much bigger maritime area than its maritime borders. Simply put, it is a Navy that can go into the vast, deep oceans of the world. However, while most navies have the capacity to send ships into the deep oceans, a Blue Water Force is able to carry out operations far from its borders, without being required to return to its home port to refuel or re-stock.

While it is evident that Blue Water navies belong to the most powerful nations, there is no one internationally agreed upon definition. Owning one or more aircraft carriers is sometimes seen as a marker.

According to the Indian Maritime Doctrine, 2015, “The ability to undertake distant operations distinguishes a blue-water navy from a brown-water force. It requires strong integral capacity, including logistics, surveillance, networked operations, etc., and enabling capability, including equipment design, training, doctrine and organisation.” It states “distant operations rely upon the attributes of access, mobility, sustenance and reach in order to show presence, project power and/or accomplish other national objectives in the area of interest”.

As the Indian Navy has the capacity to carry distant operations “at or from the sea, up to considerable distance from national shore bases”, it qualifies as a Blue Water Force.

Navies are classified in terms of colours. A navy whose operations are restricted close to the shore, where the water is muddy, is called a Brown Water Force. A navy that can go farther out is called a Green Water Force. And then there is a Blue Water Force.

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