LARGEST INDIAN NAVY DESTROYER VISITS PORT VICTORIA
(Posted 28th August 2016)
Three frontline warships of India — INS Kolkata, INS Trikand and INS Aditya – under the command of Rear Admiral Ravneet Singh, were in Port Victoria for military exercises with the Seychelles Coast Guard. One of the ships, INS Kolkata, is the largest destroyer of the Indian Navy and was only commissioned in August 2014. This Seychelles visit is being seen as the maiden deployment of INS Kolkata into more distant waters.
A high profile cocktail was organised on INS Kolkata to mark this visit to Port Victoria and after addresses by the Rear Admiral Ravneet Singh of the Indian Navy and High Commissioner Sanjay Panda of India it was Minister Wallace Cosgrow, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Fisheries and Agriculture who was honoured to speak on behalf of Seychelles. Present on board INS Kolkata were also the Designated Minister Vincent Meriton and Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St.Ange, Members of the Judiciary, the Attorney General, Members of the Diplomatic Corp, Members of the Seychelles Defence Forces and a large contingent of Seychellois of Indian descent.
In his address Minister Wallace Cosgrow retraced the years of friendship between India and Seychelles and spoke about the appreciation by Seychelles of the support by India for the islands.
The Indian High Commissioner in Seychelles said: ‘The deployment of the Indian Navy ships adds yet another chapter to the strong defence and maritime cooperation between India and Seychelles.The Indian Navy has been undertaking biannual deployment towards surveillance of the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone in joint operations with Seychelles Coast Guard for the past few years in pursuance of a Defence Cooperation Agreement between the two countries’.
The visit is part of its two-month-long deployment in the Southern Indian Ocean in line with the Indian Government’s vision of ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’ (SAGAR).
Defence and Maritime Security are one of the major fields of cooperation between India and Seychelles, which has been ongoing since the Indian Ocean island nation gained independence in 1976. During the height of the Somali pirates’ crisis did India also support the Seychelles through the donation of two surveillance aircraft and a coast guard vessel, underscoring the close friendly relations between the two countries.
More and more Indian tourists are now also flocking to the Seychelles, supported by Visa free entry and facilitated by five nonstop flights of Air Seychelles from Mumbai with code share connections via Jet Airways across India.