The full range of operations in which a nation's naval forces may be involved is vast, ranging from high intensity war fighting to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. This can be broken down into distinct roles.

1. Military

This includes application of maritime power against enemy forces, territory and trade, and to protect own forces, territory and trade. Tasks of navy are:

  • Surveillance - to keep a watch at sea
  • Maritime Strike - Attack in the sea
  • Anti-submarine operations
  • Anti-Surface operations
  • Anti-Air operations
  • Amphibious operations - Carry army soldiers to theatre of war
  • Information operations

2. Diplomatic

Naval Diplomacy entails the use of naval forces in support of foreign policy objectives such as building friendship and strengthening international cooperation. Tasks would include the following:

  • Overseas deployments
  • Flag showing / Port visits - Indian naval ships going on visit abroad
  • Hosting foreign warship visiting India
  • Technical and logistics assistance to foreign ships
  • Foreign training - training naval personnel of friendly foreign countries
  • Maritime Patrols
  • Bilateral / Multilateral Exercises
  • Non Combat Evacuation
  • Peace enforcement, peace making, peace keeping and peace building as per requests from United Nations

3. Constabulary

The increasing incidence of maritime crime has brought into sharp focus the constabulary role that navies have to perform. In the constabulary role, forces are employed to enforce law of the land or to implement a rule and law of the seas, established by an international mandate. With the establishment of the Indian Coast Guards in February 1978, law enforcement aspects of the constabulary role within the Maritime Zones of India (MZI) have been transferred to the Coast Guard. Constabulary tasks beyond the MZI are vested with the Indian Navy.

  • Counter infiltration
  • Anti-Piracy
  • Anti-Poaching
  • Anti-Trafficking

4. Benign Role

Examples of benign tasks include humanitarian aid, disaster relief, Search and Rescue (SAR), ordnance disposal, diving assistance, salvage operations, Hydrographic surveys, etc. Some of the taskes envisaged are:

  • Provision of Relief Material and Supplies
  • Medical assistance
  • Diving assistance
  • Hydrographic assistance