Calling on the Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) to closely examine and explore the vast potential that the Indian shipbuilding industry holds and stressing that it is the best value-for-money proposition they can find, Navy Chief R. Hari Kumar on Saturday said that India’s indigenous shipbuilding prowess is also an “assurance to our friends and partners” that the Indian Navy is capable and ready to support our collective security needs in the region. He said this while speaking at the ceremony for decommissioning of the indigenous missile corvette INS Kirpan after 32 years in the Indian Navy, and was handed over to Cam Ranh, Vietnam.
The decommissioning and handing over ceremony was presided over by Adm. Kumar and Rear Adm. Pham Manh Hung, Deputy Commander-in-Chief and Chief of Staff, VPN. “What makes this occasion even more significant is the fact that this is the first-ever occasion that India is offering a fully-operational corvette to any friendly foreign country,” Adm Kumar noted.
“The transfer of INS Kirpan from the Indian Navy to the VPN symbolises the status of Indian Navy being the ‘Preferred Security Partner’ in the Indian Ocean Region and would definitely be a catalyst for enhancing the existing bilateral relations between the two navies,” the Navy said in a statement. “The ship has been handed over today to VPN with complete weapon complement.”
Manned by about 12 officers and 100 sailors, Kirpan is 90 metres long and 10.45 metres in width with a maximum displacement of 1,450 tons.
On June 19, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had announced the gifting of INS Kirpan to VPN during the visit of his Vietnamese counterpart General Phan Van Gang to India. Following this, INS Kirpan departed on her final journey under Indian Tricolour from India to Vietnam on June 28 and reached Cam Ranh, Vietnam on July 8.
Talking of the extensive cooperation between the two Navies, Adm. Kumar noted that they engage extensively through frequent operational interactions, structured periodic dialogues and information-sharing mechanisms. “The Navy-to-Navy cooperation also encompasses a wide array of initiatives aimed at capacity-building and capability enhancement, including spares-supply, ship repairs, and deputation of instructors.”
Stating that India believes in a “free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, wherein no country should be excluded”, and when it comes to finding collaborative solutions, Adm. Kumar said that like-minded Navies can show the way. “The transfer of Kirpan today to one of our close friends is one such example. We also look forward to enhancing our engagements in the field of submarine rescue support and cooperation as well as maintenance,” he stated.
During his visit, Adm. Kumar would also be visiting VPN’s Headquarters at Hai Phong for bilateral interaction with Vice Admiral Tran Thanh Nghiem, Commander-in-Chief of VPN and would also be calling on the Minister of National Defence, Vietnam.
Both India and Vietnam are responsible members of the global community and regularly demonstrate their commitment to upholding the principles of fairness and justice enshrined in the international legal framework, Adm. Kumar said adding that, most significant, among the similar values, is the “striking similarity” in views on the Indo-Pacific. “Both view this region not merely as a geographic construct, but more of an integrated region,” the Navy Chief said, stating that Vietnam serves as an important partner in India’s ‘Indo-Pacific Vision’, aimed to strengthen ties and develop partnerships towards keeping the Indo-Pacific Region – safe, secure and stable.
“The recent signing of the ‘Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030’ will significantly enhance the scope and scale of existing security collaboration and ensure that no ‘single’ nation can unilaterally alter or misinterpret rules to serve its own interests in the Indo-Pacific Region,” Adm. Kumar added.
India has in the past trained Vietnamese Air Force pilots on SU-30 aircraft as well submarine crew of VPN on Kilo class submarines.