Sri Lanka Expels Chinese Spy Ship, Welcomes Indian Navy Submarine INS Karanj on Independence Day

In a bold diplomatic move, Sri Lanka has expelled a Chinese spy vessel while extending a ceremonial welcome to the Indian Navy submarine INS Karanj at the Colombo Port ahead of its Independence Day celebrations.

Marking its Independence Day on 4 February, Sri Lanka hosted INS Karanj, a diesel-electric submarine of the Indian Navy, at the Colombo Port before its scheduled departure on 5 February.


Diplomatic Victory for India

The docking of INS Karanj in Colombo coincides with the impending arrival of China’s People Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s ‘research vessel,’ Xiang Yang Hong 3, in Malé on 8 February.

Despite India’s security concerns, the government of Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu granted permission on 23 January for the Chinese ‘research vessel’ to dock at the main port in Malé, in response to China’s diplomatic overtures.

In contrast, Sri Lanka, under President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s administration, has recently enacted a policy prohibiting Chinese research vessels from accessing Sri Lankan ports or operating in the country’s exclusive economic zone for a year.

The decision to welcome INS Karanj underscores India’s pivotal role as the primary security provider in the Indian Ocean region (IOR) and sends a clear message to the Chinese PLA Navy, which has ramped up its maritime activities near India.


Significance of INS Karanj’s Docking

INS Karanj’s port call to Colombo assumes significance against the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s prohibition on foreign research vessels operating in its waters for a year, effective from 1 January.

This move is perceived as a major diplomatic and strategic victory for India, which has voiced concerns about Chinese spy vessels conducting surveys in the Indian Ocean under the guise of scientific research.

Chinese submarines, traversing the shallow waters of the Malacca Strait and the East IOR, have been collecting valuable data concerning India’s maritime domain, raising apprehensions in New Delhi.

Purpose of INS Karanj’s Visit

During its visit to Sri Lanka, INS Karanj participated in a submarine awareness program, as announced by the Sri Lankan Navy. Additionally, the crew of the Indian Navy Submarine had the opportunity to explore tourist attractions in the country.

INS Karanj, a Kalvari-class diesel-electric submarine based on the French Scorpene class submarines, was designed by the French naval group DCNS and manufactured by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai.

Approximately 100 nominated personnel of the Sri Lankan Navy were briefed about the submarine on board. The commanding officer of INS Karanj also met with Rear Admiral Saman Perera, Commander of the Western Naval Area of the Sri Lankan Navy.

India’s High Commissioner to Colombo, Santosh Jha, visited the submarine and interacted with the commanding officer, Commander Arunabh, and his crew.

The docking of INS Karanj in Colombo underscores the growing strategic partnership between India and Sri Lanka, as both nations strive to safeguard maritime security in the Indian Ocean region.


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