After a gap of six years, four Indian warships are on a visit to China, docking at Shanghai on a four-day port call.
The Indian warships -- guided missile destroyer INS Rana, stealth frigate INS Shivalik, a Kora class corvette INS Karmuk and fleet tanker INS Shakti -- from the Visakhapatnam-based Eastern Fleet entered Shanghai amidst a warm reception from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy).
Sailing out on India's eastern seaboard about a month ago, the warships are on a long-haul deployment through the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, visiting various countries along the way including Vietnam and Japan.
The ships are under the command of Eastern Fleet Flag Officer Commanding Rear Admiral P. Ajit Kumar and are on operational deployment to the South China Sea and North West Pacific Ocean, according to Indian Navy officials.
Before visiting China, the Indian warships participated in the first bilateral maritime exercise between with Japan, called JIMEX 12 (Japan India Maritime Exercise), coinciding with commemoration of 60 years of diplomatic relations between India and Japan.
Even as the four warship were in the South China Sea, another Indian warship, INS Savitri (a Sukanya class patrol vessel), is in Port Victoria, Seychelles.
INS Savitri is planning to participate in the Seychelles national day celebrations and thereafter, be deployed for about two months to undertake surveillance of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of Seychelles and Mauritius.
The Indian Navy continues to maintain a Dornier maritime patrol plane in Seychelles to provide aerial surveillance for the Seychellois EEZ.
Another Dornier is actively flying from Maldives to meet Maldivian requirements of EEZ surveillance and anti-piracy patrols. The Indian Navy support to Mauritius, Maldives and Seychelles is provided on request from the respective governments.
Meanwhile, INS Tabar, a frigate, continues its deployment in the Gulf of Aden on convoy escort and anti-piracy patrol.
The Western Fleet is set to deploy four ships on an overseas deployment to Horn of Africa, Red Sea and the Western Mediterranean under the command of Rear Admiral AR Karve, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, soon.
Such long range deployments, covering the Indian Ocean region and beyond help display Indians Navy's blue water capabilities and operational readiness.
During the recent naval commanders' conference, Indian Defence Minister AK Antony had said, "India’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean and the professional capability of our navy bestows upon us a natural ability to play a leading role in ensuring peace and stability in the Indian Ocean region."
He had also added that "considering the challenges in the Indian Ocean region, it is essential to maintain high levels of operational preparedness at all times."