Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday handed over to Vietnam 12 high-speed guard boats built under a USD 100 million Line of Credit granted to the Southeast Asian country by India.
The boats were given by Singh at a ceremony in the Hong Ha shipyard amid increasing maritime security cooperation between the two sides to deal with Beijing’s increasing military assertiveness in the South China Sea region. The defense minister is on a three-day visit to Vietnam from June 8 to 10.
”It gives me great pleasure to join this historic ceremony marking the successful completion of the project to build 12 high-speed guard boats under the USD 100 million defense Line of Credit by India,” he said at the event.
The initial five boats were manufactured at the L&T Shipyard in India and the remaining seven were built in the Hong Ha shipyard.
”I am confident that this will be a precursor to many more cooperative defense projects between India and Vietnam,” Singh said.
”This project is a glowing example of our ‘Make in India — Make for the World’ mission,” he added. The defense minister said India would be ”greatly pleased” if ”close friends like Vietnam” become part of the country’s transformation in the defense manufacturing sector.
He said the successful completion of the project, notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, is a reflection of the commitment and professional excellence of the Indian defense manufacturing sector as also the Hong Ha shipyard. In his address, Singh asserted that the Indian defense industry has substantially increased its capabilities under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He stressed that the objective is to build a domestic industry in order to make India a defense manufacturing hub that not only caters to domestic needs but also fulfills international requirements.
India and Vietnam on Wednesday inked a vision document to further broad-base the ”scope and scale” of defense ties by 2030 and sealed a logistics support pact to allow their militaries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.
The documents were signed after Singh and his Vietnamese counterpart General Phan Van Giang held ”fruitful” talks.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on mutual logistics support is the first such major agreement that Vietnam has signed with any country. The defense ministry said India and Vietnam continue to have the ”most trustworthy relations in contemporary times with broader convergence of interests and common concerns.” Vietnam, an important country of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), has territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea region.
India has oil exploration projects in the Vietnamese waters in the South China Sea. India and Vietnam have been boosting their maritime security cooperation in the last few years to protect common interests. Relations between the two countries were elevated to the level of ‘strategic partnership’ during the visit of Vietnam’s then Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to India in July 2007.
In 2016, during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Vietnam, bilateral relations were further elevated to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’.
Vietnam has become an important partner in India’s Act East policy and the Indo-Pacific vision.