Navies' essential role as military forces structured to fight in time of war can never change—but emerging threats at sea, including in times of peace, dictate a fresh perspective. We now expect more of these seagoing symbols of state power. Piracy has graduated from plain robbery to ransoming crews and the ships themselves, and maritime terrorism is only a step away.
Admittedly, this is not new. The terrorist attack on the USS Cole (DDG-67) in 2000, on the French tanker Limburg in the Gulf of Aden in 2002, and on oil platforms off Basra and passenger ferries in the Philippines are some examples. Activities of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's marine wing in Sri Lanka have included suicide-ramming selected targets. In the Indian context, all explosives used in the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai were brought in by sea in ramshackle boats. These dhows were landed on the unguarded coast in and around fishing villages; then the weapons were transported into the hinterland with the connivance of some among the police and customs forces.