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INS Jalashwa skips Mumbai

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IN UNISON: Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Yuudachi leads a formation during the five-nation “Malabar” exercise, which started in the Bay of Bengal on September 4. More than 20,000 personnel from the navies of Australia, India, Japan, Singapore and the United States are taking part in the manoeuvres that will end on Sunday. The image has been provided by the U.S. Navy.
IN UNISON: Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Yuudachi leads a formation during the five-nation “Malabar” exercise, which started in the Bay of Bengal on September 4. More than 20,000 personnel from the navies of Australia, India, Japan, Singapore and the United States are taking part in the manoeuvres that will end on Sunday. The image has been provided by the U.S. Navy.

Arunkumar Bhatt

It is the second largest warship in the naval inventory

The warship was acquired from the U.S.

It is expected to serve for 15 years

MUMBAI: INS Jalashwa, newly acquired amphibious warship from the United States, skipped the country’s premier naval base, Mumbai, and sailed to Vishakhapatnam, her home port, amid speculation that the Defence Ministry wanted it to sneak in because of the Left parties’ protest against the multi-national naval exercise in which the U.S. Navy is a leading participant.

Capt. B.S. Ahluwalia, INS Jalashwa’s commissioning commanding officer, was ordered on Wednesday night to set sail for Vizag, circumnavigating the peninsula and the Sri Lankan island. He is expected to anchor at Vizag on Friday morning, sources in the Navy said.

Warships acquired from abroad normally come here for virtually a red carpet “welcome home” ceremony attended by the flag officer commanding-in-chief of the Western Naval Command and about half a dozen other admirals with the naval band in attendance.

Acquisition of INS Jalashwa, formerly USS Trenton, was billed a symbol of growing military ties between India and the U.S.

Kept under wraps

The signing of the agreement for transferring the Austin-class warship was kept under wraps for months. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Parliament on August 24 last year as the Defence Minister that the warship to be bought for $48.23 million “would provide the Indian Navy enhanced amphibious capability.”

INS Jalashwa is the second largest warship in the naval inventory. It is 35 years old and is expected to serve the Navy for 15 years, having undergone extensive refit at Norfolk where Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen commissioned her on June 22 last.

With three mechanised landing craft and six helicopters, UH-3H Sea King, on board, INS Jalashwa could land about 1,000 troops and their equipment, double the size of the force that the home-built amphibious vessels of the Magar class do.

The ship has more endurance and much longer range against the Magar. It can release troops in its small landing craft from quite a distance, in a stand-off mode. It could be useful in providing relief in the event of natural calamities such as tsunami.

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