Agreed in India-US 2+2 dialogue: First ever repair of US Navy Ship in India; ‘Charles Drew’ arrives at L&T’s Kattupalli shipyard - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Sunday 7 August 2022

Agreed in India-US 2+2 dialogue: First ever repair of US Navy Ship in India; ‘Charles Drew’ arrives at L&T’s Kattupalli shipyard

MoD calls the repair of a US Navy Ship in a floating dock a “red-letter day for Indian shipbuilding”


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 7th Aug 22

Adding a new, strategic dimension to the burgeoning Indo-US military partnership, US Navy Ship (USNS) Charles Drew arrived at L&T’s Katupalli Shipyard at Ennore, near Chennai, on August 07 for undertaking repairs and maintenance.. 


This will be the first time ever that a US Navy ship is being repaired in an Indian shipyard.


According to senior MoD officials, New Delhi had proposed during the 2 + 2 dialoge in April that the US Navy could avail of the services and expertise of Indian shipyards.


Enabling the repair of US Navy vessels in Indian shipyards was the conclusion of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016. The LEMOA eases the exchange of goods and warlike stores between the two navies.


The Indian side offered that, with the US “pivot to the Indo-Pacific”, there would be 200-250 US Navy vessels at any given time in the Indo-Pacific. These could be serviced in Indian shipyards, rather than sail all the way to American shipyards in the Pacific.


The USNS Charles Drew will be at Kattupalli shipyard for a period of 11 days and undergo repairs in various areas, said the MoD


After the Indian offer, US Navy teams visited Indian shipyards and evaluated their potential for handling US warships. A short-list of suitable shipyards was prepared, in which Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai and L&T’s Katupalli shipyard were short-listed for this task.


Given the size of the 41,000-tonne USNS Charles Drew, L&T’s massive shipyard at Katupalli was awarded the contract.


“The event signifies the capabilities of Indian shipyards in the global ship repairing market. Indian shipyards offer wide ranging and cost-effective ship repair and maintenance services, using advanced maritime technology platforms,” said a MoD press release on Sunday.


The US was already using Indo-Pacific bases at Diego Garcia and Singapore for maintenance and ship repair. It will now have the option of a third base.


Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar described the arrival of USNS Charles Drew for repairs as the harbinger of a maturing Indian shipbuilding industry. 


“Today, India has six major shipyards with turnover of nearly $2 billion. We are making ships not only for our own requirements. We have our own design house capable of making all kinds of state-of-the-art ships. The country’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, INS Vikrant, is a shining example of the growth of the Indian shipbuilding industry,” stated the MoD.


Pointing out the high technology levels of Indian shipyards, Kumar said: “Under the new innovation ecosystem, vessels capable of undertaking autonomous missions have been built by Goa Shipyard Limited and some of our start-ups. The shipbuilding industry today is not just carrying out conventional things, but is also amalgamating the latest technologies with it,” he said. 


The Defence Secretary asserted that US-India ties have been expanding and are based on common values and beliefs in an open, inclusive and rule-based order in Indo-Pacific and rest of the global commons. 


“Indian defence exports have seen a massive increase in the last four-five years. Exports, which were worth about Rs 1,500 crore in 2015-16, have now grown by 800% to around Rs 13,000 crore. A major destination for Indian exports is the US,” said Ajay Kumar.


Rear Admiral Michael Baker, who is the Defence Attaché at the US Embassy at New Delhi, said: “Our shipping industries positively contribute to a free and open Indo-Pacific by partnering to deliver effective, efficient, and economical repair of military vessels."

1 comment:

  1. As mentioned by various defense experts & ex-servicemen, our country requires urgently big bang reforms in this sector. The US is one of the best example. They invested in public-private partnerships. Today we too have big international players who can afford and deliver big ticket projects, to name a few like Reliance, TATAS, L&T, Mahindras, Alanis etc.
    The government must invest in infrastructure and float global tenders for building projects like submarines, Combat aircrafts, frigates, choppers etc.
    Of course the priority has to decided by the government taking into consideration our economy and other factors. Infrastructures like ship building yards, multi purpose airports allied roads and other small scale industrial belts. These should be strategic locations.
    As an Indian and a layman, these are are my views.


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