By Rahul Kumar
New Delhi, Apr 13 (IANS): The Vietnam government has launched a high-speed patrol boat built with India assistance, and one more of similar class is in the pipeline. The Vietnamese coast guard had inducted the first India-made patrol vessel in December 2020.
Vietnamese media reported that the patrol boat has been built with Indian support.
The launch stands out "as an icon of India-Vietnam defense partnership" and reflects India's commitment towards building the capacity of the Vietnamese military, says Pranay Verma, India's ambassador to Vietnam. He added that the comprehensive strategic partnership and defence relations between the countries would contribute to stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The Indian embassy added that despite disruptions by the Covid-19 pandemic, the joint project has progressed at a rapid pace.
Vietnam is making full use of the $100-million line of credit (LoC) extended by India in October 2014 during the State visit of the then Vietnamese Prime Minister to India. The two nations extended their relations to that of "comprehensive strategic partnership" and have been cementing military ties since then. The patrol boat, to be used by the Coast Guard will help Vietnam strengthen regional security, detect illegal activities, curb smuggling and assist in search and rescue operations.
Under the strategic partnership, India is supporting Vietnam, that lies in the critical and highly disputed South China Sea region, to build 12 high-speed patrol vessels for the Vietnamese Coast Guard. Of these, five are being built in Chennai at the Larsen & Toubro (L&T) shipyard while seven will be constructed in Hai Phong, Vietnam, with the company's assistance.
Keeping China in the cross-hairs, the two nations have consistently maintained a high level of interaction at the diplomatic and military levels.
On 21 December 2000, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had held a virtual summit with the then Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan, who is now the President of the country as well as the head of the party. The two leaders discussed regional and global issues along with ideas to boost the India-Vietnam comprehensive strategic partnership.
Before that Vietnam had invited Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to Association of Southeast Asian Nations' Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus in December 2000, which discussed regional and maritime security along with cyber-crime.
External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar in his meetings with Vietnam in November 2020 had stressed upon the growing interest in the Indo-Pacific as an integrated and organic maritime space, with ASEAN at its centre.