White shipping and Maritime Security
White shipping means sharing and exchange of advance information regarding identity and movement of non-military commercial vessels. There is a particular color code for ships. white is the color code for commercial ships, gray is the color for military vessels and illegal ships are coded as black. After the agreement, there is mutual data sharing about white ships. Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (Gurgaon) is the model center for white shipping agreement.
Since the entire world is connected through the ocean, this poses a security threat as anyone can move from one location to other. Therefore information about the identity of the vessels in necessary to tackle any potential threat from sea routes. In fact, 26/11 Mumbai attack is a classic case of lack of information exchange and subsequently poor handling of the case.
On the basis of Information exchange through white shipping, Indian Navy work towards Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) along with other authorities like coast guard, customs. This help in better surveillance and therefore provide strength to maritime security.
In order to develop an effective regional maritime domain awareness, India has signed white shipping agreements with various nations such as the United States and Singapore, France and Israel.
Thus having advance information regarding vessel’s destination, its planned route, etc. will be helpful in effective maritime domain awareness so that illegal vessels can be properly identified.