India-U.S. maritime relationship: This maritime partnership is still a work in progress

Source: The post is based on the article “This maritime partnership is still a work in progress” published in The Hindu on 18th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: About repairing the US Naval Ship in India and India-US maritime relationship.

News: Recently, the United States cargo ship has halted for repairs at an Indian facility in Chennai. This marks an important step in the India-U.S. maritime relationship.

Why has a US Naval Ship come to India for repair?
Read here: First ever repair of a US Navy Ship in India; ‘Charles Drew’ arrives at L&T Kattupalli shipyard

During the bilateral 2+2 dialogue held in April this year, the two countries agreed to explore the possibilities of using Indian shipyards for the repair and maintenance of ships of the U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC).

Later, the MSC carried out an exhaustive audit of Indian yards and cleared the facility at Kattupalli for the repair of U.S. military vessels.

What are the implications of repairing the US Ship in the India-U.S. maritime relationship?
Functional implications

a) It signals a more efficient leveraging of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). With the arrival of a U.S. military vessel, the template of logistics cooperation seems to have broadened, b) Repairing the US Naval Ship in India is seen as a global endorsement of Indian shipbuilding and ship-repair capabilities, c) At a time when the Indian Navy has taken delivery of the INS Vikrant, the repairing the US Naval Ship will further boost ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make-in-India’.

Geopolitical implications

For India: a) It signals a consolidation of the India-U.S. partnership and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, b) India in the past has not offered access to foreign warships to Indian facilities to prevent an impression of an anti-China alliance. But the recent move suggests greater Indian readiness to accommodate the maritime interests of India’s partners, c) India recently became an associated member of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). Together, the move demonstrates India’s commitment towards the collective responsibility of ensuring security in the shared commons.

For US: a) Strengthen US’s military presence in the Eastern Indian Ocean, b) Underline the increased role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the Asian region.

What should be done to improve the India-U.S. maritime relationship further?

The India-U.S. maritime relationship remains a work in progress. U.S. MSC has no warships. The MSC is charged with delivering supplies to U.S. bases, and deals only with transport vessels of the U.S. Navy. India should promote strategic cooperation further with the U.S. Navy to facilities for repair and replenishment of U.S. destroyers and frigates


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