“Vietnam serves as an important partner in India’s ‘Indo-Pacific Vision’, which aims to strengthen ties and develop partnerships towards keeping the region safe, secure and stable,” Admiral Kumar said, presiding over the ceremony at Cam Ranh.
“The recent signing of the ‘joint vision statement on India-Vietnam defense partnership towards 2030’ will significantly enhance the scope and scale of existing security collaboration and ensure that no ‘single’ nation can unilaterally alter or misinterpret rules to serve its own interests in the Indo-Pacific,” he added.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh had announced the “gifting” of INS Kirpan, the 1,450-tonne Khukri-class missile corvette in service with the Indian Navy, during his meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart General Phan Van Giang in New Delhi on June 19, in yet another military outreach to the Southeast Asian country.
China has been regularly sending warships and survey vessels into Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), fueling tensions in the already contentious South China Sea due to Beijing’s expansionist territorial claims against its neighbours.
“Both India and Vietnam are responsible members of the global community and regularly demonstrate their commitment to upholding the principles of fairness and justice enshrined in the international legal framework,” Admiral Kumar said.
The Navy chief referred to India “gracefully accepting” the International Court of Justice’s decision that gave Bangladesh access to a larger sea area in a disputed stretch in the Bay of Bengal.
“Such examples set a precedence for resolving future disputes through shared values of peaceful means, abiding by international law and strengthening bonds between two nations,” he said.
The 90-meter-long INS Kirpan, which is manned by 12 officers and 100 sailors, was decommissioned from the Indian Navy after completing 32 years of service and handed over with a “complete weapons complement” to the Vietnam’s People’s Navy (VPN).
“Today’s handing-over ceremony symbolizes the deep-rooted friendship and strategic partnership between India and Vietnam. This is the first-ever occasion that India is offering a fully-operational corvette to any friendly foreign country,” Admiral Kumar said.
India has been steadily upgrading defense ties with Asean countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines through regular joint exercises, military exchanges and training programmes. Towards this end, India is now looking to also step-up training of Vietnamese personnel in submarine and fighter jet operations, cyber-security and electronic warfare, among other fields.