Cyclone Idai struck Africa’s eastern seaboard on March 15, creating havoc in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Particularly devastated was the Mozambique port of Beira, which has been virtually destroyed.
Natural disasters in such locations can obviously benefit from naval intervention, and quickly out of the blocks were the Indian Navy (IN) and Indian Coast Guard.
A three-ship task group made up of two IN warships, the OPVA Sujata , and the landing ship Shardul , and the Indian Coast Guard patrol ship Sarathi , which had been carrying out training exercises in the Southern Indian Ocean, was diverted to Beira.
By March 20, ships of the TG were providing power, water, blankets, medical supplies, and setting up campsites for use by international disaster relief personnel. The Shardul’s Dhruv helicopter is flying reconnaissance, rescue and medical evacuation flights.
It is anticipated that further international naval assistance will be forthcoming, details are awaited.
Maritime security expert and columnist, Trevor Hollingsbee was a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, Senior Superintendent with the Hong Kong Marine Police, Assistant Secretary for Security in the British Hong Kong Government Security Branch, and Intelligence Analyst in the UK Ministry of Defence. As an independent defence and security analyst he has had some 1,500 articles on maritime security, and geopolitical topics, published in a range of international journals and newspapers. He is an Associate Fellow of the Nautical Institute, and a past Vice-Chairman of the Institute’s Hong Kong branch.