Agreed in India-US 2+2 dialogue: First ever repair of US Navy Ship in India; ‘Charles Drew’ arrives at L&T’s Kattupalli shipyard - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla

Defense Ministry calls repair of US Navy ship in floating dock a ‘red day for Indian shipbuilding’

By Vikas Gupta

Defence News of India, 7 Aug 22

Adding a new strategic dimension to the burgeoning Indo-US military partnership, the United States Navy Ship (USNS) Charles Drew arrived at L&T’s Katupalli Shipyard in Ennore, near Chennai on 07 August to undertake repairs and maintenance.

It will be the first time that a US Navy ship will be repaired in an Indian shipyard.

According to senior MoD officials, New Delhi had offered during the 2+2 dialogue in April that the US Navy could benefit from the services and expertise of Indian shipyards.

Enabling the repair of US Navy vessels in Indian shipyards was the conclusion of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA) in 2016. The LEMOA facilitates the exchange of war goods and stores between the two navies .

The Indian side proposed that with the “US Indo-Pacific Pivot”, there would be 200-250 US Navy ships in the Indo-Pacific at any given time. These could be serviced in Indian shipyards, rather than sailing to American shipyards in the Pacific.

USNS Charles Drew will be at Kattupalli Dockyard for 11 days undergoing repairs in various areas, the MoD said

After the Indian bid, US Navy teams visited Indian shipyards and assessed their potential for handling US warships. A shortlist of suitable shipyards has been prepared, in which Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai and L&T’s Katupalli Shipyard have been shortlisted for the task.

Considering the size of the USNS Charles Drew at 41,000 tons, L&T’s huge shipyard in Katupalli won the contract.

“The event is a testament to the capabilities of Indian shipyards in the global ship repair market. Indian shipyards offer varied and cost-effective ship repair and maintenance services, using advanced maritime technology platforms,” a Defense Ministry press release said on Sunday.

The United States was already using Indo-Pacific bases in Diego Garcia and Singapore for ship maintenance and repair. He will now have the option of a third base.

Defense Secretary Ajay Kumar described the arrival of USNS Charles Drew for repairs as a harbinger of a maturing Indian shipbuilding industry.

“Today India has six major shipyards with a turnover of nearly $2 billion. We make ships not only for our own needs. We have our own design office capable of manufacturing all kinds of state-of-the-art vessels. The country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, is a shining example of the growth of India’s shipbuilding industry,” the Ministry of Defense said.

Highlighting the high technology levels of Indian shipyards, Kumar said, “As part of the new innovation ecosystem, vessels capable of undertaking autonomous missions have been built by Goa Shipyard Limited and some of our start-ups. Today, the shipbuilding industry is not just doing conventional things, but also fusing the latest technologies with it,” he said.

The Secretary of Defense affirmed that the US-India relationship has grown and is based on shared values ​​and beliefs in an open, inclusive and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and the rest of the undivided global.

“Indian defense exports have witnessed a massive increase over the past four to five years. Exports, which were worth around Rs 1,500 crore in 2015-2016, have now increased by 800% to around Rs 13,000 crore. The United States is a major destination for Indian exports,” said Ajay Kumar.

Rear Admiral Michael Baker, Defense Attaché at the United States Embassy in New Delhi, said, “Our maritime industries are positively contributing to a free and open Indo-Pacific by partnering to ensure effective, efficient repair and economics of military ships.