Clearly, maritime-security challenges are diverse and transcend national boundaries. No single country has the bandwidth and resources to address them alone. All nations, whether coastal or landlocked, are to a greater or lesser extent dependent on the sea for the continued success of their economies and the well-being of their people. This dependence is based on the freedom of nations to use the highways provided by the oceans, plying their trade to all the corners of the earth.
The ever-increasing globalization of economies, the growing concerns regarding the security of sea lines of communication, the increased dependence on the seas for commercial trade and resources, and the need to protect offshore installations against threats during both peace and war are a few of the challenges faced by the littoral nations. In the post-9/11 world, lethal piracy, closed-looped terrorism, gun running, drug smuggling, human trafficking, transport of criminals and weapons of mass destruction, and many other vulnerabilities are making our oceans troubled waters. Additionally, “brown littoral” water has become unpredictable in the new era.
Economically and strategically Bangladesh remains a maritime nation, mostly dependent on what happens at and from the sea. It is inevitable that the maritime concerns of the country will grow with the passage of time. Setting sail with two gunboats in 1971, the Bangladesh Navy (BN) emerged as guardian of the national maritime space. Traditionally, its roles are to protect the territorial integrity, political independence, and maritime interests of Bangladesh. In doing so, the BN has been conducting a full range of operations in our maritime domain since independence. The service maintains round-the-clock vigilance at sea for this purpose. We also conduct special operations against armed robbery, illegal poaching, smuggling, gun running, and terrorism. Today, the BN is also engaged in promoting global peace through an active role in U.N. peace support operations. Since 2010 the service has deployed one frigate and one large patrol craft to UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
The BN is also committed to promoting peace and maintaining stability in the littorals of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean region in general. It is actively involved in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific Naval Symposia and will continue to engage in trust- and confidence-building initiatives while developing interoperability as a cornerstone for combined effort against maritime-security challenges.