An Indian naval ship on a four-day visit to Sri Lanka from 24-28 October 2021 (PTI Photo)
FOR the first time, six ships of the Indian Navy’s first training squadron have arrived in Sri Lanka on a four-day visit to bolster the defence cooperation between the two countries, officials said.
They arrived in the ports of Colombo and Trincomalee on Sunday (24) to conduct training with their Sri Lankan counterparts.
In a statement, the Indian High Commission said, “the visit marks a milestone in the history of bilateral relations, wherein for the first time such a large number of Indian Navy ships have visited Sri Lanka.”
“Training has been one of the strongest and most enduring pillars of India-Sri Lanka bilateral defence cooperation and this visit will provide further impetus to the same,” it said.
The visit of the Indian naval ships comes amid China’s increasing forays into the island nation and Beijing’s efforts to step up defence ties with it.
Sri Lanka is expected to play an important role under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an ambitious global infrastructure development strategy adopted by Beijing to enhance its influence and promote inter-regional connectivity.
Various training activities are planned between the navies of India and Sri Lanka with an aim to enhance the interoperability of the two forces, according to an official press release by the ministry of defence in New Delhi.
A total of 75 officers, 153 officer cadets, 10 NCC cadets and 530 sailors form part of the visit. During their stay, a series of professional, training, cultural and sports interactions are scheduled between the ships’ crew and Sri Lanka Navy personnel.
The First Training Squadron which comprises six ships, including two sail ships, is part of the Indian Navy’s prestigious Southern Naval Command (SNC). The ships are scheduled to leave on October 27 and 28.