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India and Kenya likely to build warships to keep Indian Ocean shipping lanes safe

In partnership with India, Kenya wants to be the leading catalyst in the development of shipbuilding industry in Eastern Africa (All images courtesy: Kenya Shipyards Limited)

Continuing with its efforts to enhance security of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), especially on the eastern coast of Africa, India on Tuesday took some major steps towards bolstering its defence partnership with Kenya.

This includes a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed between Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) and Kenya Shipyards Limited (KSL) in the field of capacity building and for collaboration in ship design and construction.

The MoU was inked in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Defence Aden Bare Duale who, during their talks in New Delhi, concurred on the need for deeper cooperation in maritime security.

While GSL is the largest exporter of defence ships from the Indian subcontinent, the Kenya Shipyards Limited was established by the country’s National Security Council in August 2020 to address operational requirements of the Kenyan Navy.

Mombasa shipyard

A state company under the Kenyan Ministry of Defence, the KSL wants to be the leading catalyst in the development of shipbuilding industry in Eastern Africa through its modern facility at the Kenyan Navy’s Mtongwe base in the port city of Mombasa.

With the eastern coast of Africa having only three more shipyards in Egypt, Djibouti and South Africa, Kenya is keen on taking full advantage of its prime geographical location at the crossroads of strategic shipping lanes for world trade.

Both India and Kenya have a firm history of collaboration, including a MoU on defence cooperation in the field of military medical services, training and exercises, military culture, sports and adventure as well as the supply of military materials and equipment.

The two countries also have an active MoU on sharing of White Shipping Information aimed at improving maritime security through sharing of unclassified information through dedicated Automatic Information Systems (AIS) receivers for monitoring commercial ships and passenger liners.

Earlier this month, a KSL team led by its Deputy Managing Director Brigadier I Omari had a successful working tour of Goa Shipyard Limited to assess capabilities in order to establish a framework on collaboration in construction, refit, repair, maintenance and overhaul of marine vessels and related infrastructure.

Goa shipyard limited

The visit was preceded by two Indian Naval Ships making a port call to Mombasa in the months of May and June and Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff of India, Vice Admiral Sanjay Mahindru, also touring Kenya around the same time on invitation of the Kenyan defence forces.

The indigenously-built Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Sunayna, which arrived in Mombasa on June 20, has been built by Goa Shipyard Limited.

On the other hand, Vice Admiral Sanjay Mahindru’s visit to the Kenya Navy Headquarters in Mombasa was in pursuance of the India-Kenya Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC) engagement, which recommended high-level visits by the two militaries.

On Tuesday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh underscored the importance India attaches to its ties with African nations, in particular the relationship with Kenya that has been growing from strength to strength.

As a token of friendship, Singh presented 15 pairs of parachutes (main and reserve) manufactured by the Gliders India Limited to the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Defence for use by the Kenyan forces. Both sides also agreed for joint training in counter insurgency and UN peacekeeping domains.

The Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Defence, who will be visiting Indian shipyards and defence industries in Goa and Bengaluru over the next two days, appreciated the growing prowess of the Indian defence industry, including the private sector, and highlighted the areas in which the Indian industry can support the requirements of the Kenyan forces.

“He also suggested ‘training of trainers’ of Kenyan Forces by the instructors of Indian Armed Forces in order to maintain continuity and extract greater benefit out of such programmes.

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