IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


11th December, 2023 Security


Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.


The Indian Navy is planning to acquire indigenously-made swimmer delivery vehicles — also known as underwater chariots and midget submarines — as part of efforts to modernize and strengthen the capabilities of its Marine Commandos (MARCOS) for special undersea operations.


  • Vehicle Design:
    • Powered by lithium-ion batteries.
    • Capacity to accommodate a crew of at least six.
    • Larger size allows for extended underwater missions and increased operational range in shallow waters.
    • Ability to carry additional weaponry for various specialized operations.
  • Procurement Plans:
    • Initial prototype development underway.
    • Intention to procure several dozen vehicles for the Navy upon successful prototype testing.

Operational Advantages

  • Specialized Utility:
    • Widely used by advanced naval forces worldwide.
    • Ideal for shallow-water operations:
      • Targeting coastal installations.
      • Engaging adversaries' ships in harbor areas.
    • Strategic Significance:
    • Modern-day equivalent to manned human torpedoes used in World War II.
    • Offers access to areas near adversaries' harbors inaccessible to conventional submarines.
    • Enables transportation of weaponry and equipment to otherwise unreachable operational zones.

Historical Context

  • References to potential use of Italian-made chariots by the Indian Navy.
  • Earlier initiatives around 2012 involved Hindustan Shipyard Limited constructing two such submarines, indicating previous efforts to enhance undersea operational capabilities.


  • The Marine Commandos, also known as MARCOS and officially termed Marine Commando Force (MCF), constitute the special forces unit of the Indian Navy.
  • Originally named Indian Marine Special Force, later renamed Marine Commando Force to provide an individual identity, subsequently abbreviated to MARCOS.
  • Founded in February 1987, MARCOS possesses versatile capabilities in maritime, airborne, and land-based operations.
  • Nickname: Magarmach (The Crocodiles), Dadhiwala Fauj (The bearded army)
  • Motto: "The Few, The Fearless"
  • Anniversary: 14 February


  • In 1955, Indian military established a diving school in Cochin, assisted by the British Special Boat Service, focusing on combat divers' skills such as explosive disposal, clearance, and salvage diving.
  • During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the combat divers lacked the necessary skills for sabotage missions.
  • Indian Army's 340th Army Independent Brigade was transformed into an amphibious assault unit in 1983.
  • Planning for a specialized maritime force started in April 1986, leading to the official establishment of the Indian Marine Special Force (IMSF) in February 1987, which was later renamed Marine Commando Force in 1991.

Notable Operations:

  • Operation Pawan (1987): MARCOS assisted in capturing the harbors of Jaffna and Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force. Notable for a successful amphibious raid against a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) base at Guru Nagar.
  • Operation Cactus (1988): MARCOS played a vital role in defending the Maldivian government from a coup attempt, supporting India's military aid by preventing a Sri Lankan militant group's escape with hostages.
  • Operation Rakshak (Ongoing): Engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the Jhelum River and Wular Lake, effectively curbing militant activities.
  • Other Operations: Participation in UN missions (UNOSOM II), anti-piracy operations, Kargil War involvement, Yemen rescue operation, anti-terrorism activities, and more.
    • Operation Tasha (1991)
    • Operation Zabardust (1992)
    • Operation Rahat in Yemen (2015)
    • Operation Black Tornado in Mumbai attacl (2008)
    • Anti-Piracy Operations (2008, 2011, 2013, 2017)
    • Exercise 'Balance Iroquois' 03-1/Vajra Prahar (2003)
    • Abduction of Dubai princess Sheikha Latifa (2018)
    • China-India skirmishes (2020)

Organizational Structure:

  • Responsibilities: Conducting operations at strategic and tactical levels, including amphibious operations, reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, asymmetric warfare, and more.
  • Bases: Operating from naval bases in Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Goa, Kochi, and Port Blair.
  • Selection and Training: Stringent selection process and rigorous training involving combat diving, airborne operations, urban combat, counter-insurgency, and continuous skill development.

Future Plans and Enhancements:

  • Integrated Combat System (ICS): Procurement of an advanced ICS aimed at enhancing command, control, and information-sharing capabilities.
  • Midget Submarines: Contracts awarded to build mini-submarines exclusively for MARCOS use, enhancing their capabilities in maritime operations.


Q. Discuss the role and significance of Marine Commandos (MARCOS) in strengthening India's maritime security. Highlight their specialized functions, historical operations, and the potential impact of future technological advancements in enhancing their operational capabilities. (250 Words)