The first, and arguably the only comprehensive international oceanographic endeavour to date focusing on the Indian Ocean was the Indian Ocean Expedition of 1959-65, which saw forty-six research vessels under thirteen different flags carrying out research on a multitude of themes covering almost the entire Indian Ocean basin. Aimed at carrying forward the legacy of the success of this global scientific initiative is the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2) of 2015-20, launched recently under the aegis of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) and the Indian Ocean Global Observing System (IOGOOS). Several international collaborative research programmes and outreach activities within the framework of a comprehensive Science Plan are planned under IIOE-2 over the next five years. The overarching goals of this initiative are to advance our understanding of the interactions between geological, ocean, and atmospheric processes that give rise to the complex physical dynamics of the Indian Ocean region and to determine how those dynamics affect the climate, extreme events, ecosystems, and human population. In addition, various activities are also planned focused towards helping to build research capacity in the Indian Ocean rim countries and in motivating efforts to make the oceanographic data from the region more widely accessible to the scientific fraternity.
Commemorating the 50 years of completion of this global initiative, an International Symposium titled "Dynamics of the Indian Ocean; Perspective and Retrospective" was organised from the 30 November to 04 December 2015 at the National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR-NIO), Goa, India. The Symposium, which was co-sponsored by CSIR-NIO, SCOR, IOC and the Ministry of Earth Sciences, provided an ideal forum for over 500 scientists and young researchers from 30 countries to present the results of their studies on the Indian Ocean, review the scientific progress that has been made over the past fifty years and to plan future research. A final session on the future IIOE served as a curtain raiser to the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2) of 2015-20 (http://www.iioe-2.incois.gov.in).
Spearheading the Indian activities of IIOE-2 is the Ministry of Earth Sciences and the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS). INCOIS also hosts one of the two nodes of a Joint Project Office (JPO) network which will provide the co-ordination and secretariat support to IIOE-2 (the node being the UNESCO IOC Perth Programme Office (PPO)). A National Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. M. Rajeevan, Secretary, MoES has also been constituted to take stock of the progress in oceanographic research in India, and to enhance the country's involvement in the various activities of IIOE-2 which are also in consonance with the Strategic Plan of MoES.