New Delhi — Indian naval ships Deepak, Delhi, Tabar and Trishul are on a month-long deployment to the Gulf region to enhance bilateral ties and engage in naval exercises with friendly regional navies.
The visiting ships form part of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet and are based in Mumbai. Of the four ships, INS Delhi and INS Trishul entered Doha, Qatar, today and shall remain there till 17 September. The warships will have professional interactions for enhancing cooperation and sharing the details of naval operations including disaster management and combating maritime threats of terrorism and piracy.
Apart from professional interactions, sports and social engagements are also planned, which are aimed at enhancing cooperation and understanding between the navies of the two countries.
India has an ancient maritime tradition and maritime interaction with the Gulf dating back to over 4000 years BC. The Indian Navy comprising aircraft carriers, modern ships, submarines, aircraft and marine commandos has multi-dimensional capabilities. A notable feature of the Indian Navy’s force structure is the fact that an overwhelming majority of its ships are designed and constructed in India.
The Indian Navy has close and friendly ties with all navies in the Gulf and has been regularly exercising with many of them. The Indian Navy is also has contracts to provide training and hydrographic support to several navies in the region. The involvement of Indian naval ships in combating piracy off the coast of Somalia since October 2008 has further strengthened the bilateral ties and interaction with navies in the region.
Bilateral relations between India and Qatar have traditionally focussed on economic and people-to-people linkages. The booming trade relations could soon see India as Qatar’s largest trading partner.
The last decade witnessed steady growth in the defence relations between the countries, which was further strengthened by the Defence Cooperation Agreement signed between the two countries in November 2008. The setting up of the India-Qatar Joint Defence Cooperation Committee has enhanced cooperation in the fields of training, strategic study, joint exercises and information sharing. The growing naval cooperation between the countries is evidenced by the increased frequency of high-level visits in addition to cross training of naval officers and port visits by naval ships.
India and Qatar are also members of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a voluntary and cooperative initiative between 35 countries of the Indian Ocean region, which has served as an ideal forum for sharing of information and cooperation on maritime issues. The current visit by Indian ships to the region seeks to underscore the country’s peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries in the Gulf and strengthen the existing bonds of friendship between India and Qatar.