‘Indian Navy will support anti-piracy operations’

Muaz Shabandri

India’s commitment to support defence capabilities of the UAE received a major boost on Sunday when four ships from the Indian navy docked at Port Rashid. A friendly naval exercise between the two countries will renew India’s commitment to bolster defence ties with the UAE.

Addressing journalists at a special showcase of the Indian navy fleet in Dubai, Vice-Admiral (VAdm) Shekhar Sinha, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy, said the trip to the Gulf was a routine deployment but the ships had come to the UAE to “take bilateral ties to a higher level”.

“This visit comes as a reinforcement of cooperation in maritime security between India and the UAE.”

The naval exercise will take place on Wednesday off the UAE coast and five vessels from the UAE navy will participate alongside four ships from the Indian navy’s Western Fleet. The Indian fleet includes INS Mysore, Tarkash, Tabar and Aditya.

“We have friendly ties with all Gulf countries especially with the UAE. We do regular exercises with them and there is support in areas of officers training, higher learning and hydrographic surveying.”

India and the UAE have several bilateral agreements on extradition, mutual legal assistance in criminal and civil matters, juridical and judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters, combating trafficking and narcotics, civil aviation, cultural exchange and information cooperation.

The latest visit by Indian navy seeks to underscore India’s peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries in the Gulf and strengthen existing bonds of friendship between India and the UAE.

The visit is also intended to help in the ongoing fight against maritime piracy.

“Every ship of (the) Indian navy’s Western Fleet goes for an anti-piracy mission as part of a cyclic deployment to escort merchant vessels,” said VAdm Sinha.

India has the largest resident Navy in the Indian Ocean region, with a multi-dimensional capability comprising aircraft carriers, modern ships, submarines, aircraft and marine commandos.

“We will continue to protect and escort merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden. The Navy protects ships irrespective of their nationality. Our work is very well defined and it does not get affected by the presence or absence of anybody,” added VAdm Sinha.

“We are trying to make sea trade more secure and less prone to interference by unwanted elements.”

A statement from the Indian Consulate in Dubai reiterated the message saying: “The involvement of Indian Naval ships in combating piracy off the coast of Somalia since October 2008 has further strengthened bilateral ties and interaction with navies in the region.”

Navy-to-navy staff talks between the UAE and India started in January 2007 and both countries have since strengthened cooperation on many fronts.

VAdm Sinha added: “It is mutually beneficial for both countries to ensure the sea link remains open as the UAE is a major oil exporter and India is also an importing nation.”

The UAE deployment of Indian navy ships will follow a visit to Oman where joint naval exercises will focus on tactical skills, deployment and fuelling at sea.

“Every time a country inducts a new ship or a new weapon system, they require people to be trained to operate it. Between two good neighbouring countries, there are no hesitations,” he explained.

The visiting ships form part of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet under the Western Naval Command and are based in Mumbai. The Task Group is headed by Rear Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Fleet, who is flying his flag on INS Mysore.

Via: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/

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