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Monday, February 23rd 2004, 10:43pm

India News Wrap-up, Q2/22

AWNR India News Wrap-up, Q2/22

2 April

A gruesome discovery east off Ceylon has the Indian Coastal Security Force perplexed.

“Acting on information provided by a fishing boat, a CSF patrol boat boarded the tramp freighter Khachchahr approximately three hundred nautical miles east of Trincomalee”, recited a CSF official in the force’s Ceylon office. “The boarding party found the remains of the freighter’s seventeen man crew in the ship’s forward hold, where they had been murdered.”

CSF has not disclosed how the men were killed, or what the freighter was carrying. It is not the first incident of apparent piracy this year, but is certainly the most violent.

19 April

India’s Naval Design Bureau has released the plans for what might have been the nation’s first aviation ship. While the former collier Bhima proved to be the testbed for naval aviation, there had been consideration in 1920 for modifying the incomplete cruiser Male into a hybrid aviation cruiser.

The conversion would have seen a landing deck installed between the aft-most turret and an enlarged second funnel. A flying deck would have extended from the bridge forward, with a transit deck connecting it along the starboard side to the landing deck. Two small hangars would have been installed under the decks, with approximately a dozen aircraft carried. As a consequence, the ship would have had its main armament reduced to three 8.2" guns - the port, starboard, and aft-most weapons.

The Navy ended up rejecting the proposal, in part because it wanted the cruiser completed as planned. Regardless, the design was also considered too much of a compromise, and would have proved unsatisfactory as either a cruiser or aviation ship.

4 May

The second Indian Ocean Naval Symposium begins next week in Mumbai. The annual event first began in Durban in May of last year, and proved to be a success.

There is somewhat less fanfare associated with this year’s conference, but the slate of topics remains strong. There will be two days of discussions on the Nordmark-Argentina conflict, along with a day each on naval aviation, logistics, and a review of last year’s naval exercises.

A series of manoeuvres will take place in and around the Maldives, primarily involving cruisers, destroyers and torpedo boats.

7 June

An early cyclone has wreaked havoc in southern Ceylon. Several fishing villages have sustained heavy damage and an estimated three hundred people have been killed.

Several units of the Coastal Security Force and a naval destroyer have arrived in the area to render assistance. A hospital ship is en route from Columbo, with a capacity to treat hundreds of sick and injured people in a day.

The Meteorological Service of India says that the storm is not atypical. “It’s that time of year, unfortunately”, said Kamal Pashira, the service’s director-general. “With advanced warning of the storm’s intensity and course, we might have been able to warn the villages in its path. That might have saved lives.”

22 June

Following the disastrous cyclone that struck Ceylon earlier in the month, the Government of India announced a new program intended to predict the path and strength of cyclones.

Kamal Pashira, speaking from the MSI office in Bangalore, said, “We’re going to erect a chain of weather monitoring and forecasting stations on islands in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. We will start with installations on Ceylon, the Andaman Islands, the Maldives, and the Chagos Islands. We’ll look for other areas that may be well-placed to serve as forecasting stations, but some may be in foreign jurisdictions. In those cases, we will ask the Ministry for International Affairs to speak with the appropriate governments.