After successfully completing their four-day goodwill visit to Shanghai last week, four Indian warships are returning home and have left the Chinese port in the Western Pacific Ocean on their return journey back to Visakhapatnam, their home base.
India's guided missile destroyer INS Rana, stealth frigate INS Shivalik, missile corvette INS Karmukh and fleet tanker INS Shakti had docked in Shanghai last week. This was the first time an Indian warship had docked in a Chinese port in the last six years.
Under Indian Navy's Eastern Fleet Flag Officer Commanding Rear Admiral P. Ajit Kumar, the warships and their crew members got to meet with and exchange notes on both the country's maritime and social cultures with China's People's Liberation Army (Navy) personnel during the Shanghai docking.
This visit also provided the opportunity for India and China to have a maritime dialogue. India's Eastern Naval Commander Vice Admiral Anil Chopra was in Shanghai to interact with the PLA(N) Eastern naval commander, aimed at greater cooperation in combating piracy and cooperation in seabed research.
The four warships had docked in Shanghai during the course of their long distance deployment that began about a month ago. The warships had left Visakhapatnam and had sailed to a number of ports in key South East Asian nations before reaching Shanghai.
The warships had sailed through South China Sea that has witnessed military standoff in recent months over territorial disputes between nations of the region. Indian warships had docked in Vietnam and in Japan. During such port calls, the navies of those nations carried out a passage exercise or a full-fledged maritime exercise, as it was the case with Japan.
The China visit by Indian warships is a sign of both nations' desire to build trust in the maritime domain, which is considered as a potential sources of future conflicts between the two nations, particularly due to Chinese assertiveness in South China Sea and their warships venturing into the Indian Ocean Region, considered by India as its backyard, in the name of sustaining anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.
As the four Indian warships sail back to their home base in Visakhapatnam in about a month, they are likely to also dock at several ports of nations in the South East Asia to make a friendly call to the navies of those countries.