In a first, US navy ship docks in India for repairs

A US Navy ship named ‘Charles Drew’ made history on Sunday when it landed in India for repairs and ancillary services at Larsen & Toubro’s (L&T) Shipyard in Kattupalli, Chennai. This move added a new facet to the rapidly growing Indo-U.S. strategic cooperation.

“This is the first ever repair of a US Navy ship in India. The U.S. Navy had awarded a contract to L&T’s Shipyard at Kattupalli for undertaking maintenance of the ship. The event signifies the capabilities of Indian shipyards in the global ship repairing market,” a Defense Ministry statement said.  

The USNS Charles Drew will spend 11 days at the Kattupalli shipyard getting various repairs done. 

At the India-US 2+2 in April, both countries decided to look at the possibility of using Indian shipyards for the upkeep and repair of ships owned by the US Maritime Sealift Command in order to assist with mid-voyage repairs of US naval ships. 

J.D. Patil, a member of the executive council and advisor to the CEO of L&T for defense and smart technologies, stated that the Marine Sealift Command of the U.S. Navy had conducted a thorough evaluation of a few Indian shipyards before approving L&T to handle repairs on their vessels. He called this “a recognition for the modern infrastructure at the shipyard built to global standards.” 

The arrival of the USNS Charles Drew for repairs, according to Defense Secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar, is a symbol of a developing Indian shipbuilding industry. He called the occasion a “red-letter day” for the Indian shipbuilding industry and the Indo-US defense cooperation. 

India currently has six significant shipyards with a combined annual revenue of around $2 billion. “We build ships for purposes other than our own needs. We have a design studio on staff that can create a variety of cutting-edge ships. A brilliant example of the expansion of the Indian shipbuilding sector is the nation’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, Vikrant,” he remarked. 

Dr. Kumar further argued that India and the US have been developing their relationship on the basis of shared ideals and perspectives about “an open, inclusive, and rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific and rest of the global common systems.” 

According to Judith Ravin, the US Consul General in Chennai, “US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin restated their commitment to explore using Indian shipyards for repairs on US Navy vessels at the US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in April. 

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