Arakan Army Rebels Destroy 5 Myanmar Naval Boats, Cripple Navy

The Navy believes rebels utilized naval mines to sink its boats, reports say.
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 06:24 AM, March 4, 2024
  • 1151
Arakan Army Rebels Destroy 5 Myanmar Naval Boats, Cripple Navy
Arakan Army-seized naval boat @via Myanmar media

In a recent development, the Arakan Army (AA) rebels have destroyed five naval boats belonging to Myanmar's navy, dealing a setback to the service.

This was first reported by Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Times.

Myanmar's navy, established in 1948, has remained relatively modest until a 1990s expansion. It currently boasts 19,000 sailors and 122 vessels, including submarines and frigates. However, the navy has lacked combat experience, being primarily engaged in joint military exercises off the Rakhine coast.

The recent attacks by the AA have exposed the navy's vulnerabilities, highlighting its limited combat capabilities and lack of separate combat forces like marines.

The navy has historically been used for patrols along the Tanintharyi and Rakhine coasts, as well as the Ayeyarwady, Chindwin, and Salween rivers, with a primary focus on supporting ground forces.

The recent clashes in Rakhine State, which erupted in November last year, have revealed the navy's struggle to respond effectively to the AA threat. The rebels targeted three naval boats carrying the 9th Military Operations commander and junta soldiers near Apaukwa village on the Kaladan on February 8. Subsequent efforts to rescue personnel from four junta vessels were thwarted by the AA, resulting in the sinking of additional boats and the loss of around 700 junta soldiers and their relatives.

Arakan Army Rebels Destroy 5 Myanmar Naval Boats, Cripple Navy
Chinese submarine operated by Myanmar’s military

The AA claims responsibility for sinking a regime boat in Minbya Township on February 12, which had allegedly been bombing villages for years. The armed group continued its assault, destroying a junta boat in Minbya the following day. In total, five boats, including two barges, were destroyed from February 7-13, and four other vessels suffered significant damage.

The navy, which previously played a strategic role against the AA, now faces a crisis as it grapples with its first defeat since Myanmar's independence. Reports suggest that the navy believes the AA utilized naval mines to sink its boats.

The military's air force and navy were considered advantages against anti-regime forces, but recent events, including the shooting down of planes, indicate a shifting dynamic.

The loss of several naval boats in less than a week has prompted the military to use helicopters to evacuate junta families from Rakhine, while naval vessels have been conspicuously absent from the region's rivers since February 8.

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