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The first ever US Navy Ship arrives in India for repairs

by Raju Vernekar
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By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, August 08:

As part of the Indo-US strategic partnership, US Navy Ship (USNS) Charles Drew arrived at L&T’s Shipyard at Kattupalli, Chennai to undertake repairs and allied services on August 07, Sunday.
The ship will be at the Kattupalli shipyard for 11 days and undergo repairs in various areas. The arrival of US ship for repairs to India is considered a major boost to “Make in India” and “Self Reliance in Defence”.
The US Navy has awarded a contract to L&T’s Shipyard at Kattupalli for undertaking maintenance of the ship. Indian shipyards offer wide-ranging and cost-effective ship repair and maintenance services, using advanced maritime technology platforms. The arrival of US ship for repairs signifies the capabilities of Indian shipyards in the global ship repairing market, an official release stated. 
Defence Secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar, Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral SN Ghormade, Flag Officer Commanding Tamil Nadu & Puducherry Naval Area Rear Admiral S Venkat Raman, and other senior officials of the Defence Ministry visited the shipyard to welcome the vessel. Consul General in Chennai Ms. Judith Ravin and Defence Attaché at the US Embassy in New Delhi Rear Admiral Michael Baker were also present.
On the occasion, Defence Secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar termed the event a red-letter day for the Indian shipbuilding industry and the Indo-US defence relationship. “We are pleased to welcome US Naval Ship USNS Charles Drew to India, for making her voyage ready. It marks the beginning of a new chapter for deeper engagements”, he said.
He described the arrival of the US ship for repairs as a sign of maturing Indian shipbuilding industry and added that today, India has six major shipyards with a turnover of nearly $2 billion. “We are making ships not only for our requirements. We have our own design house capable of making all kinds of state-of-the-art ships”.
“The country’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Vikrant is a shining example of the growth of the Indian shipbuilding industry. Under the innovation ecosystem, vessels capable of undertaking autonomous missions have been built by Goa Shipyard Limited and some of our start-ups. The shipbuilding industry today is not just carrying out conventional things, but is also amalgamating the latest technologies with it,” Dr. Ajay Kumar said.
“Indian defence exports which were worth about Rs 1,500 crore in 2015-16, have now grown by 800% to around Rs 13,000 crore. A major destination for Indian exports is the US,” Dr. Ajay Kumar said and thanked the US partners for their cooperation and support to the Indian defence industry. 
US Consul General in Chennai Ms. Judith Ravin said: “In April, at the US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin affirmed their intention to explore utilizing Indian shipyards for repairs on US Navy vessels. This inaugural repair of USNS Charles Drewis is a landmark development to be celebrated as a symbol of our strengthened US-India partnership.”
Defence Attaché at the US Embassy at New Delhi Rear Admiral Michael Baker said: “Our shipping industries positively contributes to a free and open Indo-Pacific by partnering to deliver effective, efficient, and economical repair of military vessels.”
Member of the Executive Council and Advisor to the CEO of L&T for Defence and Smart Technologies (L&TDST) JD Patil said, the Marine Sealift Command of the US Navy had undertaken a rigorous evaluation of select shipyards in India and cleared L&T for undertaking repairs on their vessels. It is a recognition of the modern infrastructure at the shipyard built to global standards.

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