To further project its blue water capability, the Indian Navy has deployed five of its frontline warships in the South China Sea.
"In the course of this one-and-a-half-month deployment, Indian naval ships will visit Pusan (South Korea), Tokyo, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta," sources at naval headquarters said. This is the first time that the Indian Navy will be having such an extensive agenda in the South China Sea.
The group of warships consists of two Kashin class destroyers — Ranjit and Ranvijay, frigate Godavari, missile corvette Kirch, offshore patrol vessel Sukanya and fleet tanker Jyoti. These ships are part of the India's eastern fleet and are being commanded by Rear Admiral Sunil Damle.
A senior officer at naval headquarters said the deployment in the South China Sea would demonstrate Indian Navy's increasing ability to operate far away from home. It's in keeping with the navy's increasing emphasis on 'Tacking (changing course) to the Blue Waters' and, thereby, showing Indian presence far away from its shores.
"The eastern fleet ships would also carry out basic level passage exercises (Passex) with the host navies on departure from the respective ports," a spokesman said.
These warships will visit various ports on the itinerary in two groups. “While one group would call on Pusan, Tokyo, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City from October 15 to November 9, the second group is scheduled to visit Jakarta, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City from October 21 to November 9," the spokesman added.
The primary aim of these visits is to enhance bilateral cooperation and boost naval ties through greater professional interaction, the navy declared. The deployment in the South China Sea will also give India an opportunity to showcase its indigenous shipbuilding capability in the region. The ships are scheduled to return to their base port by mid-November.