By Sajeev K Peter
KUWAIT: Indian naval ship INS Visakhapatnam arrived at Shuwaikh Port on an operational turnaround visit on Saturday. The visit of the ship adds a new chapter to the bilateral navy-to-navy cooperation between India and Kuwait, a press release issued by the Indian Embassy said. The ship was accorded a warm welcome on arrival by Kuwait’s senior naval officials, Kuwait border guards and Indian embassy officials. As the flagship of Indian Western Fleet docked at the port, Indian school students greeted it enthusiastically by waving Indian flags. Rear Admiral Vineet S McCarty, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, is also onboard the ship.
The ship’s visit is in continuation of the increased maritime cooperation witnessed during 2021 when five Indian naval ships visited Kuwait for transporting liquid medical oxygen. It was followed by a visit of INS TEG in July 2022 and three ships from First Training Squadron having a port of call in Kuwait in October 2022. During its three-day port of call, various professional and training interactions are planned with Kuwait naval forces. The ship will also be kept open for visit by Indian citizens and schoolchildren, besides hosting various cultural activities. A passing exercise will also be conducted jointly with Kuwait Navy on Aug 22.
The visit of INS Visakhapatnam to Kuwait is a testimony of the historic maritime partnership which has contributed towards building the strong India-Kuwait partnership, the release added. The visit highlights Indian Navy’s commitment to establishing cooperative partnerships with friendly countries, particularly in the Indian Ocean region, to combat maritime challenges together. During the visit, Indian naval officials are expected to undertake professional interactions with Kuwait naval officials on various aspects of maritime operations and share best practices aimed at enhancing defense cooperation between the two navies.
As part of the wider Gulf visit, INS Visakhapatnam visited Oman on July 30 to strengthen the maritime cooperation between the Indian Navy and Royal Oman Navy. The ship, along with another naval frontline platform, INS Trikand, visited Dubai’s Port Rashid on Aug 9. INS Visakhapatnam is the lead ship and the first of the Visakhapatnam class stealth-guided missile destroyers. Built indigenously by Mazagon Dock Limited, the ship was commissioned on Nov 21, 2021 and is one of the largest destroyers in service with Indian Navy.
The Visakhapatnam-class destroyers, also classified as the P-15 Bravo class, or simply P-15B, is a class of guided-missile destroyers currently being built for the Indian Navy. The ship is an upgraded derivative of its predecessor, the Kolkata class, with improved features of stealth, automation and ordnance. Designed by the Warship Design Bureau (WDB), a total of four ships are being built by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. This 164m ship is fitted with the most advanced state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment, sensors, radars and electronic warfare capability. The ship is equipped to carry two helicopters.