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Vessels to harbour — India bolsters coastal defence of key Indian Ocean ally Maldives

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on board INS Tarmugli which was recommissioned as CGS Huravee on Tuesday (Image courtesy: Maldives President's Office)

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh handed over an indigenously built Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), along with an assault landing craft to Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) on Tuesday, another gift from New Delhi to enhance the capacity of defence and security forces of the archipelago.

Singh, who began Tuesday by calling on the President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, also inaugurated the development project of the MNDF Coast Guard Harbour and repair facility at Sifavaru.

The India-developed project would assist the MNDF in exercising jurisdiction and undertaking maritime surveillance of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and atolls.

It is one of the 10 areas for cooperation outlined in the ‘Action Plan on Defence Cooperation between Maldives and India’, signed during former Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Qayoom’s visit to India in April 2016.

For several years, the MNDF Coast Guard had been in dire need of an indigenous dockyard and harbour to ensure maritime safety in a nation whose territory is 99.7 per cent water.

Thanking India, Maldives Defence Minister Mariya Didi has stated the “extreme necessity” to have a vessel repair and maintenance facility at home as having Coast Guard ships berthed and moored in high civilian traffic areas and inadequate berthing facilities not only led to extra costs but also posed security and safety risks.

Also, sending vessels like India-gifted CGS Huravee to Naval Dockyard in Visakhapatnam or any other place for major repairs and refitting left them non-operational for a long period.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, the highly manoeuvrable Fast Attack Craft INS Tarmugli, which will be recommissioned as CGS Huravee during the ceremony today, will mark another significant milestone in the defence ties between the two countries.

“I’m thoroughly impressed by the vessel’s equipment and capacity. This OPV will undoubtedly help President Ibu Solih achieve his goal of strengthening the Armed Forces’ capabilities,” tweeted Mariya Didi after boarding the ship last Thursday.

rajnath maldives visit
(Image courtesy: Maldives Defence Ministry)

It has been for a long time that the Indian Navy has been assisting friendly Indian Ocean Region (IOR) littoral nations – including Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius – in maritime surveillance by deploying its ships and aircraft for joint EEZ surveillance.

Spotlighting the special relationship with India, Didi broke protocol and personally received the Singh upon his arrival at the Velana International Airport. Also accompanying the Defence Minister was the Maldives’ Chief of Defence Force Major General Abdhulla Shamaal.

Later, during their bilateral meeting, both ministers discussed a wide range of regional and global security issues of mutual concern and agreed to further strengthen the cooperation in the defence and security domains.

“Both Ministers reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, and security in the region, and recognized the need to work together to address common security challenges. They underscored the importance of respecting international law and the rules-based international order, and expressed their commitment to upholding these principles,” said the Maldivian Defence Ministry in a statement.

Singh then called on Maldives’ Foreign Affairs Minister Abdulla Shahid, with both ministers acknowledging and reviewing the significant milestones achieved through robust defence cooperation between the two countries.

Shahid specifically mentioned the prominent role India continues to play in enhancing the capacities of the defence and security forces of Maldives.

Male has repeatedly stated how the partnership with India has made a real difference in the lives of people in the island nation.

A key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region, Maldives continues to occupy an important place in India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and the ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) vision of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The India-Maldives partnership is not only working in the interest of the citizens of both the countries but is also becoming a source of peace, stability and prosperity for the region,” Prime Minister Modi stated during Solih’s landmark visit in August 2022.

Also Read: Rajnath in Maldives, IAF chief in Sri Lanka lead India’s fresh outreach in Indian Ocean