EconomyNext – Two off-shore patrol vessels (OPVs) ordered by the Sri Lanka Navy are under construction at a shipyard in India which is trying to counter Chinese influence in the island by strengthening its own relationship through increased trade and defence ties.
India’s minister of state for defence production Rao Inderjit Singh said the two warships were being built by Goa Shipyard, a state-owned defence Public Sector Undertaking, according news reports.
Singh spoke at the hand over to Mauritius of a 1,300 – tonne offshore patrol vessel named "Barracuda" built by Indian defence shipbuilder Garden Reach Shipyard & Engineers in Kolkatta.
This 58 million US dollar vessel is the first warship ordered by a foreign country from an Indian shipyard.
Rao Inderjit Singh said the warships for Sri Lanka will be the export order that follows last week’s delivery of an OPV to Mauritius for the first time.
They are expected to be delivered to the island nation by 2017-18 and will strengthen its maritime patrol capabilities.
The Sri Lankan government’s 2014 budget allocated 15.8 billion rupees for the purchase of the two OPVs from India.
"From Sri Lanka, we have received an order to build two off-shore patrol vessels and they are under construction in Goa Shipyard," Singh was quoted as saying at the ceremonial delivery of CGS Barracuda to the Mauritian Coast Guard on Saturday.
He said the ships are entirely indigenously-built and there hasn’t been any technology cooperation with foreign partners.
"This is the first time the export barrier has been breached. This will be the first in the long line of ships that we hope to export from our country. I think the country can feel proud that the ship-building industry has come of age," the minister said.
India supplied two OPVs to Sri Lanka during the war against Tamil Tiger separatists one of which now serves as the Sri Lankan navy’s flagship.
India has also gifted several warships to smaller Indian Ocean countries such as the Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius.
The increased military ties are meant to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.
In September the visit of a Chinese submarine to Colombo reportedly raised concern in New Delhi.