Amidst standoff with China, India to sign ARLS with Russia; Talks on with the UK, Vietnam for LSA

“Warships usually need to replenish their fuel every few days; the lack of access to ports therefore can be a serious operational limitation,” say experts.

Amidst standoff with China, India to sign ARLS with Russia; Talks on with the UK, Vietnam for LSA
“Warships usually need to replenish their fuel every few days; the lack of access to ports therefore can be a serious operational limitation,” say experts. (Photo source: IE)

Amidst the tensions with India and China growing along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India is ready to ink Logistics Support agreement with Russia next month, and is in talks with the UK and Vietnam for similar agreements. “Warships usually need to replenish their fuel every few days; the lack of access to ports therefore can be a serious operational limitation,” say experts.

“ Such Logistics Agreement allows ships operating in company with other navies either during exercises or in an operational deployment to replenish from the logistic support ships of accompanying navies thus obviating the necessity of each navy deploying its own underway replenishment for its own ships,” Commodore Anil Jai Singh, Indian Navy Veteran & Vice President Indian Maritime Foundation tells Financial Express Online.


The draft of the Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS) was shared with Russia and is now in its final stages. At a recent virtual interaction with the media, Roman Babushkin, Deputy Chief of Mission, Russian Embassy in India, had said “In mid-October when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin meet for the annual summit the ARLS is expected to be inked.”

Why is this important?

With new shipping routes opening up, and more resources becoming available, with ARLS in place India will get access to the Russian facilities based in the Artic Region.

India-Russia Military Cooperation

India and Russia already have a draft ready on the military Logistic Sharing agreement. During the recent meetings between the two countries efforts are on to firm it up for it to be inked during the forthcoming India-Russia Annual Summit which is expected to take place in India.

India-UK Maritime Cooperation

Next year, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and the Carrier Strike Group, on her maiden operational deployment, will operate in the Indian Ocean region. And, according to a senior British officer, “Both sides will be undertaking the most complex and sophisticated Ex-KONKAN.” The cornerstone of India’s maritime cooperation is Ex-Konkan. This is designed to test the ability of the two Commonwealth navies to operate side-by-side during the war and other operations.

The UK has been a preferred port of call whenever Indian Navy operates in the northern Atlantic. Therefore, having a Logistics Agreement with the UK, will help the Indian Navy.

The two countries have a common perspective on maritime challenges and have agreed to develop a cooperative framework to face all challenges.

Their intentions for the future is reflected in ambitious shipbuilding and maritime innovation programmes.

The UK has also pitched to jointly work in the areas of aircraft carriers and development of 6th generation fighter aircraft technologies.

The two sides are having a dialogue on electric propulsion for the aircraft carrier and are exploring opportunities to support Make in India initiative.

The UK had last year agreed to place a liaison officer at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre (IFC) for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) headquartered in Gurugram. “The process has got delayed due to the global pandemic COVID-19 lockdown,” said a senior officer.

As has been reportedly earlier by Financial Express Online earlier, India has inked a number of white shipping agreements, Logistics Support Agreements (LSA) and maritime cooperation agreements with several countries. It has LSA with countries including Japan, the US, Singapore, France, Oman, Australia.

What is the importance of Logistic Support Agreements?

“From a purely naval and maritime security perspective, the recently signed logistic agreement with Japan will provide the Indian Naval ships operating in the South China Sea and the Western Pacific access to port facilities including logistics and maintenance support from the JMSDF. India has also concluded similar arrangements with some other countries in the region. Such access in friendly foreign countries greatly enhances the endurance of ships to remain at sea for extended periods in distant waters thus providing both, the operational reach and the flexibility to deliver the desired effect,” Commodore Singh, former submariner opines.

“In the last few years, the Indian Navy has adopted a multi-mission deployment with 12-15 IN warships operating independently across the Indo-Pacific to monitor the critical chokepoints bordering the Indian ocean, ensure the safe passage of trade, enhance maritime domain awareness, provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, combat non- traditional and sub-conventional security threats and a host of other functions. It is not possible for each ship to be accompanied by a logistic support ship – the availability of logistic and maintenance support in friendly ports is therefore essential for the success of such deployments,” Commodore Singh opines.

In conclusion Commodore Singh says “Equally important is the reciprocal arrangement such an agreement provides. In the emerging maritime security scenario in the Indo-Pacific, like-minded navies will have to work closely together to combat the multitude of traditional and non-traditional security challenges in the region. The navies of India’s Pacific partners with whom India has such arrangements will also be able to therefore operate extensively in the Indian Ocean with access available to Indian ports and naval logistic facilities. This will build capacity in the Indian Ocean and support Indian initiatives as the net security provider in the region.”

According to the former spokesperson of the Indian Navy Capt DK Sharma, “In today’s scenario, the Navies of the world are operating far and wide on various missions, whether be it under NATO mandate or as coalition forces for World Food Programme or for Anti-Piracy in the Gulf of Aden or for that matter HADR missions or flag showing missions in friendly foreign countries (diplomatic duties),” Capt Sharma says.

“The Naval ships whilst operating far and wide and away from their home ports do have the requirement to replenish themselves with fuel and other lubricants etc which are necessary for the machinery. Also the fresh stocks of food in all the ships are also limited for a certain number of days and need to be replenished.

The need to rectify the defects on the complicated machinery, sensors and weapons of the ships are also a reality and have to be attended to on priority should anything go wrong,” the former spokesperson explains.

According to him, “With these types of arrangements in place between friendly and like minded nations, the logistics for maintaining the fleets get simplified and the need for the ships to get back to home ports is obviated. By using a friendly port and the services of that nation reduces the “downtime” of the ships tremendously as also gives them the confidence to the ships that help would not be far even if you’re thousands of miles away from your own country.”

“These agreements do increase the reach of the Navies who don’t have to bother about logistics as they are ensured that the partner country would meet all the requirements promptly,” he adds.

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First published on: 17-09-2020 at 11:29 IST