US boat on elint mission?

The US boat, SV Seaman Guard Ohio, had apparently multiple missions. The arms drop to some nefarious Indian customers was discussed in the last blog. The other possibility, according to some experts who picked up the radio transmission of the boat, suspect a far more elaborate and strategic mission with the boat being equipped with powerful communications equipment able not only to eveasdrop on Indian naval (?) communications traffic but also to generate electronic intelligence (elint) on Indian missile launches that are planned in the immediate future, among them an Agni-IV, and Agni-V and the Nirbhaya 1,000 km cruise missile. Who knows, the equipment on this vessel may also be capable of, and was perhaps tasked to, try and jam the guidance system and otherwise subvert the planned test-firing profiles. In any case, truth would be known only if NTRO, NIA, with the assistance of, say, TCS were to take hold of the communications equipment on Ohio and, as the Chinese would do in such a situation, disassemble it to learn of its capabilities, and by way of a blueprint to reverse engineer the same.In any case, under no circumstances should this boat be allowed to leave Indian control, even if the men, who are not really important in the larger scheme of things, are repatriated. But we must, at a minimum, find out what’s in the innards of that ship and familiarize ourselves especially with the on-board communications/elint, missiule telemetry reading paraphernalia, and anything else we may find in it. It has trespassed into Indian waters, broke Indian laws. So, it is for us to learn what the ship was up to and do whatever needs to be done to gain knowledge of its electronics/elint suite. But will the Congress party govt at the centre and in Kerala show some chutzpah or, as is its wont, buckle under at the first sign of Washington’s ire?

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Asian geopolitics, China, China military, Defence Industry, DRDO, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Navy, Indian Ocean, Indian Politics, Internal Security, Missiles, Terrorism, Weapons. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to US boat on elint mission?

  1. RV says:

    There’s a distinct possibility that some/much of the sophisticated/incriminating gear has by now been removed from the ship, undoubtedly with the complicity of the MMS types. This investigation should have been done the moment the vessel was intercepted/apprehended, which is what the Chinese would have done. If this is the case, then the only option left is to make the crew “sing like canaries”, and lie in wait for the next “innocuous” ship.

  2. RV says:

    Assuming that this “innocuous” arms laden ship which:

    1. illegally entered Indian waters to escape from Typhoon Phailin (which was around 1000 kms. away at that point of time), AND, because it was “enticed” by the India Coast Guard,
    and,
    2 took on diesel from smugglers instead of legally entering a port for refueling,

    indeed had ELINT-related gear on board as some quarters suspect, and *assuming* that this hypothetical ELINT-related gear has since been “removed” from the vessel, a detailed and comprehensive electronics forensics analysis of whatever electronic gear still remains aboard the vessel *might* yet reveal some traces of the nature of the hypothetical suspected ELINT-related equipment.

    For this, whatever electronic gear on board, including the satellite navigation system (which appears to be quite sophisticated), needs to be taken apart. The investigation needs to be handed over to the NIA/NTRO/…., unless they are too busy doing nothing. I believe that even some DRDO outfits could undertake such an investigation.

    Some interesting information appears in:

    http://newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/Shadowy-Arab-billionaire-behind-armed-US-ship/2013/10/20/article1844739.ece

    “The owner of Seaman Guard Ohio, Samir Farajallah, an UAE businessman operates in the shadow of war. He is so reclusive that his name cannot be found even on the AdvanFort website. According to Public Education Center, a non-profit organisation based in Washington, Farajallah, through New-Field Exhibitions, a post-war profiteering conglomerate, controls the private mercenary and Intelligence operation business from New-Field headquarters on Seventeenth Street in Washington DC, a pricey locality close to the White House. Sources said Farajallah has open access to Pentagon.”.

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