Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Monday said there was no lapse in coastal security in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where an American missionary was killed by an indigenous group after he illegally tried to enter their island, ANI reported.

On November 21, the Sentinelese people killed John Allen Chau after he ventured onto the North Sentinel island, where strangers are forbidden to enter by law. So far, the police have arrested several fishermen who helped take Chau to the island.

“He came as a tourist in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and had requisite permissions to be there,” Lanba said at a news conference. “It is being investigated by the [Andaman and Nicobar] police.”

Warships and submarines

Lanba also said the force is looking at inducting 56 warships and submarines to enhance its strength, besides the 32 warships that are under construction, PTI reported. He added that a process to bring in a third aircraft carrier has been moved.

“The government has given approval to having 56 ships and submarines,” Lanba told reporters, according to The Tribune. “Some of these will replace the existing fleet and include new ships like fleet ships, submarines and mine sweepers.”

Lanba said all new ships were being constructed to accommodate women officers on board. “They [accommodation for women] are already there, like [INS] Vikramaditya and [INS] Kolkata class have facilities to accommodate lady officers on board. All future ships will have facilities to accommodate women on board.”

The admiral said the pilot project to fit Automated Identification System transponders on fishing boats to enhance coastal security has been successful. “There are some 2.2 lakh fishing boats under 20 metres in length that do not have AIS transponders,” he said. “The issue was to have low-cost transponders. I agree it has taken 10 years but soon we will have these transponders on all fishing boats.”

The admiral also said the Navy was looking into the contract given to Reliance Naval Engineering Limited for five offshore patrol vehicles. “Bank guarantee for the deal has been encashed,” he added.

The Navy chief said India was in talks with the government of Seychelles about setting up a $550-million (Rs 3,760 crore) military base at Assumption Island.

The pact with Seychelles was first announced during Narendra Modi’s visit to the strategic Indian Ocean archipelago nation in 2015. The deal faced hurdles and in March, copies of the classified agreement were leaked online, with allegations that the Seychelles government had “sold off” Assumption Island to India. The opposition coalition in Seychelles, which holds a majority in the Seychelles Parliament, had opposed the pact. In June, Seychelles called off the deal.