Cochin Shipyard signs ship repair agreement with U.S. Navy

The State-run shipbuilding facility in Kochi is the third shipyard in the country after Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) to enter into a Master Shipyard Repair Agreement (MRSA)

April 08, 2024 11:22 pm | Updated April 09, 2024 06:27 am IST - NEW DELHI

A bird’s eye view of the Cochin Shipyard

A bird’s eye view of the Cochin Shipyard | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

As India and the United States look to expand cooperation in ship repair and maintenance to turn India into a regional hub, Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) became the third Indian shipyard to enter into a Master Shipyard Repair Agreement (MRSA) with the U.S., which will enable to repair U.S. Navy ships.

The State-run shipbuilding facility in Kochi is the latest in the line after Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL).

L&T shipyard in Kattupalli near Chennai, which has so far repaired three U.S. Navy fleet support ships, was the first Indian shipyard to sign the agreement in July last year. Last month, a United Kingdom naval ship arrived for the first time at Kattupalli for repairs.

“We would like to inform that CSL has signed the MSRA with United States Navy. The MSRA is a non-financial agreement and is effective from April 05, 2024. This will facilitate repair of U.S. Naval vessels under Military Sealift Command in CSL,” the entity said in a disclosure to stock exchanges, adding: “CSL has been qualified for entering into the MSRA after a detailed evaluation process and capability assessment by the U.S. Navy — Military Sealift Command”.

Both India and the U.S. are quite keen on expanding cooperation in ship maintenance and repairs as it benefits both countries, giving business and expertise to Indian shipyards while giving alternate options to the U.S. Navy for its smaller repairs of its ships without going faraway increasing their turnaround time and at significantly lesser cost. Defence shipyard MDL concluded an MSRA in August 2023.

In a joint statement issued after bilateral talks held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden in September last year, both sides recommitted to advancing India’s “emergence as a hub for the maintenance and repair” of forward-deployed U.S. Navy assets and other aircraft and vessels, while also adding that the leaders welcomed “further commitments from U.S. industry to invest more in India’s maintenance, repair, and overhaul capabilities and facilities for aircraft.”

U.K. deploying its fleet

On March 26, the U.K.’s Littoral Response Group (LRG) arrived in Chennai as the first engagement of its deployment to the Indian Pacific region. The U.K. High Commission said the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Argus and RFA Lyme Bay conducted maritime exercises with the Indian Navy as they entered the Arabian Sea and will undergo essential maintenance at L&T shipyard. “This is the first time a Royal Navy vessel will undergo maintenance at an Indian shipyard — a direct result of the logistics-sharing agreement signed between the U.K. and India in 2022,” the High Commission said.

“The visit of the Littoral Response Group (LRG) attests to the U.K.’s capability and commitment to the Indo Pacific. The sight of Royal Navy ships undergoing essential maintenance at an Indian shipyard is yet another example of the India-UK Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in practice,” said Brigadier Nick Sawyer, Defence Advisor, British High Commission. “It also signals the continued growing importance of the strategic defence partnership between the UK and India as we build towards achieving the ambition set out in the India-U.K. 2030 Roadmap.” 

Following the completion of its maintenance in India, the LRG will operate in the Indo-Pacific to conduct training, exercises, and wider engagement with allies and partners, the statement added.

In January, the U.K. launched Defence Partnership-India — a bespoke office designed to further defence collaboration between the two countries, which includes sending the U.K.’s LRG (South) to India for joint exercises and use of the Indian dockyard at Chennai for essential maintenance.

The U.K. has also announced plans for the Carrier Strike Group 2025 to visit the Indo-Pacific, which includes the intent to operate and train with the Indian armed forces.

The logistics-sharing agreement between the U.K. and India allows for the provision of logistics support, supplies and services between the U.K. and Indian armed forces for joint training, joint exercises, authorised port visits and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.

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