On April 19, the US Department of Defence put out a two-page document detailing what it said were the “excessive maritime claims” of certain countries. The purpose of this annual exercise, which has been around for the past decade and more, is to list the countries as well as mark the fact that the US Navy has challenged the claims, in some instances multiple times, in a particular calendar year.
In 2015, India again fell into the category of countries whose claims had been challenged “multiple times” for the “excessive claim” of requiring countries to seek prior consent for military exercises and manoeuvres in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The US began formally protesting India’s position in 1976 and fitfully thereafter, but the “operational challenges” have been a feature since 2008. What the Indian Navy did in response to this is unclear. In ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), New Delhi had declared that in its understanding the treaty did not authorise other states to carry out military exercises on its EEZ without India’s permission.