India, Madagascar discuss maritime security and interoperability between navies

Indian naval ship INS Shardul made a port call in Madagascar’s Antsiranana as part of increasing patrols of the Indian Ocean in recent years given a surge in Chinese naval activity in these waters. Adhering to covid19 protocols, the port call was conducted in “a non-contact format and a virtual conference with officials of Madagascar Armed Forces was held on 23 March,” an Indian navy statement said. The conference was attended by Gen Montrogue Fitz Gerald, Chief of Ankarana Defence Zone, Captain Sam Hieng Twion, Commander of the Antsiranana Naval Base on the Madagascar side.

From India, Captain Aftab Ahmed Khan (Senior Officer First Training Squadron) and Commander Akshay Khanna who is the Commanding Officer INS Shardul, took part in the conference. The Chief of Ankarana Defence Zone welcomed the INS Shardul and appreciated the growing relations between the defence forces of two nations. The conference was followed by a visit of Captain Sam Hieng Twion, Naval Base Commander of Antsirana to INS Shardul, the statement said.

The INS Shardul and Malagasy Navy ship MNS Trozona also carried out a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) on 24 March. “The joint exercise bears testimony to the growing bonds between the maritime forces of both the nations and aimed at common objectives of ensuring maritime security by India and Madagascar and interoperability between the two navies,” the statement said. In recent years, Indian naval ships have increased their presence and patrols in the waters of the Indian Ocean region that New Delhi considers as lying within its sphere of influence.

Indian naval vessels have acted as first responders to nations affected by natural calamities on the eastern sea board of Africa – a case in point three Indian ships of the Navy assisted Mozambique in relief and rescue operations in March 2019 after Cyclone Idai made devastated southern and eastern Africa. In recent months after covid-19 impacted the world, Indian naval ships have been making port calls in Comorros, Madagascar and in Seychelles besides the Maldives with food and medical supplies.

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