In the current geo-political scenario, seafarers of the world, represented by their navies, have taken a leading role in bringing nations together by steadily increasing cooperation at sea. Despite the geographical distance from India, for the first time, countries from the Latin America (LatAm) region will be participating in the second edition of the International Fleet Review (IFR) next month.
During the IFR, the navies of the world will come together at Visakhapatnam to strengthen bridges of friendship, including, for the first time, navies from Colombia, Peru, Chile and Brazil, who have confirmed their participation in the event and will be represented through either their navy chiefs or senior-level delegations, senior navy officials told FE.
“We may be separated by geography, but we are certainly united through oceans. The visiting navies will also have the opportunity to display their professional skills as they sail together for exercises to increase mutual cooperation and interoperability, with the underlying theme of keeping the global commons safe and secure in the 21st century,” naval chief admiral R K Dhowan told FE.
The review, which aims at assuring the country of the the Navy’s preparedness, high morale and discipline, is being held after a gap of almost one-and-a-half decades. The first IFR was held in 2001 at Mumbai. “So far, 24 foreign
ships and 52 foreign navies have confirmed participation in some form or the other (ships/CNO/delegates),” said official spokesperson of the Navy, captain D K Sharma.
Nations which have confirmed participation include the US, China, Canada, Russia, the UK, Australia, France, South Africa, Japan and South Korea. Many other nations from African, Asian and the Americas too will be participating. Sharing his views on the participation of countries from LatAm, Stephan Xavier Beltran Gomez, defence analyst at Colombian Center for Strategic Studies, says, “The visit of delegations from Peru, Chile and Colombia to IFR is basically to strengthen the existing relations between the nations of the Asia-Pacific blocks, rather than an interest in military products from India, and specifically talking about the naval forces, because these three nations have almost three best shipyards that currently exist in the South American region: COTECMAR (Colombia); SIMA (Perú) and ASMAR (Chile).”
At present, the Chilean Navy has 68 surface ships, with six on order. Among its fleet are eight frigates, seven missile boats, six amphibious warfare ships, 16 patrol boats, two research vessels, and an icebreaker. It also has four submarines. India, Chile and Brazil too operate Scorpene submarines. According to Gomez, “India is an exotic market in any area of business that may include a South American country, and is virtually unknown. However, Indian main battle tank Arjun was once being considered for the cavalry of Colombia, which sought an MBT (project at the moment is frozen due to budgetary problems); HAL’s Light Combat Aircraft Tejas was being looked at for the Colombian Air Force. It is likely that the delegation from the Colombian Navy will to take the opportunity to know the range of products that India has to offer.”
While the ships from LatAm countries may not have come to Indian waters, the Indian Navy has had an opportunity to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014 exercise in Hawaii, which had 23 navies from Colombia, Chile, China, and Brunei,for the first time.
* During the International Fleet Review (IFR) next month, the navies of the world will come together at Visakhapatnam to strengthen friendship
* For the first time, navies from Colombia, Peru, Chile and Brazil have confirmed their participation in the event and will be represented through either their navy chiefs or senior-level delegations