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Three Indian naval ships arrive in Singapore as part of Eastern Fleet deployment to South China Sea

Indian Naval ships reach in Singapore (Photo: @indiannavy)

Indian Naval Ships Delhi, Shakti, and Kiltan led by Rear Admiral Rajesh Dhankhar, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet arrived at Singapore on Monday to a warm welcome by personnel of Singapore Navy and the High Commissioner of India in Singapore, the Indian Navy said.

The visit is part of the Operational Deployment of the Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet to the South China Sea.

This visit is poised to further strengthen the longstanding friendship and cooperation between the two maritime nations through a series of engagements and activities.

During the ships’ stay in the harbour, various activities are planned to be undertaken including interactions with the High Commission of India, professional interactions with the Republic of Singapore Navy as also academia and community outreach amongst other activities, reflecting the shared values of both navies, the Indian Navy also said.

The Indian Navy and the Republic of Singapore Navy have had robust relations spanning three decades of cooperation, coordination and collaboration with regular visits, exchange of best practices, and reciprocal training arrangements. The current deployment underscores the strong linkages between both the navies.

China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea has been steadily increasing, resulting in heightened tensions with Southeast Asian claimant states, particularly the Philippines, at the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands.

In recent years, satellite imagery has shown China’s increased efforts to reclaim land in the South China Sea by physically increasing the size of islands or creating new islands altogether.

The Philippines Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 3 summoned China’s deputy chief of mission Zhou Zhiyong on Thursday. Philippines’ action comes two days after the incident at a disputed shoal that caused damage to a Philippine coastguard vessel and another government boat.

The ministry said it was the 20th protest by the Philippines against the conduct of Chinese coastguard and fishing vessels this year. The ministry has made 153 complaints in the past two years.

In a statement, the Philippines Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “The Philippines protested the harassment, ramming, swarming, shadowing and blocking, dangerous manoeuvres, use of water cannons, and other aggressive actions of [the] China Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia.”

China has claimed almost the entire South China Sea rejecting claims from other nations, including the Philippines, and an international ruling that states that these claims have no legal basis. Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam also claim the parts of the sea.