Program Overview

The Indian Ocean Naval Conflict Database (IONCD) is a project initiated by the Nixon Center's Regional Strategic Programs as part of a larger effort to study the increasing influence of major Asian powers the Middle East.  In the past ten years, Asia has been increasing its economic and diplomatic ties with the Middle East, in large part to satiate its growing demand for fossil fuels.  Although there is investment in ambitious new infrastructure projects to link China to the Middle East by land, the primary pathways for Asian-Mid East commerce will remain seaborne for the foreseeable future.  Thus, the maritime security of the Indian Ocean will become an increasingly important issue in 21st Century geopolitics, requiring a thorough understanding of the region's maritime rivalries.  

IONCD was created to fulfill this need.  The Database covers interstate naval conflict occurring within the Indian Ocean from 1939 to 2007.  It is divided into five eras: World War II (1939-1945), the Early Cold War (1946-1979), the Tanker War (1980-1989), the Era of American Unipolarity (1990-2001), and the 21st Century.  Each page includes a spreadsheet, a corresponding Word file presenting a narrative account each of the conflicts, and an interactive map. Conflicts are represented by clickable "thumbtacks" which give the reader information on their origin and outcome.  There is also a page outlining the methodology used in preparing the database, as well as a published article detailing our findings. 

Although the IONCD's format is based off of the Correlates of War ( ), its specificity of focus coupled with its emphasis on interactivity qualify it as a truly unique project.  While databases such as the Correlates of War can provide analysts with an understanding of the broader causes of interstate war, they are unsuited to examine specific instances tied to a particular region or type of military conflict. It is because of this that we uncovered numerous instances of naval conflict that the COW had missed.  At the time of this writing (October 2009), there is no other publicly accessible database that specializes in maritime conflicts Indian Ocean for such a broad time span.

This website is also intended to serve as a companion piece to the forthcoming article, From Backwater to Strategic Crossroads: The Statistics and Importance of Inter-State Naval Conflict in the Indian Ocean (1939-2007), which will be published by the Nixon Center in October 2009.  An advanced draft of this article can be found at the bottom of the Tables, Charts, and Documents section of this webpage.


Conflicts in the IONCD can be viewed in one of three ways.  First, there is an interactive Google Map which displays the approximate geographical location of each conflict.  By clicking on a red "thumbtack", a bubble will expand telling the reader about the conflict's date, participants, geographical location, entry number in the database, and offer a short news article describing the conflict's events. 

All of this information is also backed up in more traditional formats.  At the bottom of each section, there is a spreadsheet outlining each conflict, as well as a link which allows the reader to download a Word file with each of the conflict narratives.  Each of the narratives in both the downloadable file and in the GoogleMap is backed up with bibliographical information about its source.  At the bottom of the "Tables, Charts, and Statistics" section, there is also a Master Spreadsheet which contains entries for all the eras combined into one document.  All of the conflicts in the map, database, and Word file are also crossed-referenced by a dispute number which is categorized by era.  They are divided as such:
  • World War II (1939-1945): 1000000s
  • Early Cold War (1946-1979): 2000000s
  • Tanker War (1980-1984): 3000000s
  • Tanker War (1985-1989): 4000000s
  • American Unipolarity (1990-2001): 5000000s
  • 21st Century (2001-2007): 6000000s
For example, if you wanted to find information about the Indian invasion of Goa in 1961, you would first click on the section "Early Cold War (1946-1979) in the upper-right hand corner of this page.  Then, you would scroll down to the embedded spreadsheet, and find that three incidents correspond to this conflict:  Number 2000005, which took place between India and Portugal on November 17, 1961 on Angediva Island, and numbers 2000006 and 2000007, which took place between India and Portugal on November 24, and December 18, 1961 in the waters off of Goa.  If you wanted to know more about these conflicts, you could either download the narratives document at the bottom of the page, and then find the articles corresponding to the conflicts 200005, 200006, and 200007, or click on the corresponding thumbtack in the GoogleMaps application at the top of the page. 

About the Nixon Center:

Located in Washington, D.C., the Nixon Center is a non-partisan public policy institution which operates as a substantively and programmatically independent division of The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation.  The Center is funded through a combination of corporate and individual donations in addition to foundation grants. 

Chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr & Co., Inc., Maurice R. Greenberg, serves as the Nixon Center Chairman.  Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger serves as the Center's Honorary Chairman, while former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger is Chairman of the Center Advisory Board.  Dimitri K. Simes a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Nixon in his post-presidential years, is the President of the Center.

The Nixon Center has consolidated its position as an important voice in America's foreign policy deliberations through the work of its experts.  In this spirit The Nixon Center has become the sole publisher of the influential foreign policy magazine, The National Interest.  However, the Center is committed to having an impact beyond academic discussion.  Its objectives include not only the pragmatic analysis of contemporary policy issues, but also broad public education and influence in the national debate on American priorities in the post-Cold War world and in the war on terrorism. 

*Cover Image Description: BAY OF BENGAL (Sept. 5, 2007) - INS Viraat steams in formation in the Bay of Bengal during exercise Malabar 07-2 Sept. 5. The multinational exercise includes naval forces from India, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and the United States. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Stephen W. Rowe. (