|ABFC Ocean Shield (Click Image to Enlarge)|
New Delhi (Sputnik) — Naval forces of India, Japan and the US hold Exercise Malabar every year. Following a 2007 demarche issued by China to the four countries participating in the drills, Australia pulled out from Malabar in 2008. It is now keen to rejoin the exercise.
"The ship will be at Chennai until May 20, 2017. During the visit at Chennai, various events are planned by the Indian Coast Guard for mutual interaction to develop Inter-Operability between the two maritime forces," a statement issued by the Indian Coast Guard said.
Vannakam @AusBorderForce Ocean Shield. @AusHCIndia thanks @icg_nonofficial for a very warm welcome to #Chennai! pic.twitter.com/CHdolAAMgh— AusConsulateChennai (@AusCGChennai) May 18, 2017
The 500-ton, 105-meters long and 21-meters wide ABFC Ocean Shield is the largest ship in the Australian Border Force fleet. It can accommodate up to 100 people, has more than 1000 meters deck area, and a medium-size helipad on the bow. The ship was constructed as an offshore support vessel by a Romanian company STK OSV and was later inducted as ABFC ‘Ocean Shield', an offshore patrol vessel on June 30, 2012. The ship achieves a maximum speed of 16 knots with a displacement of 8,500 tons and draws 6.6 meters draught.
India and Australia will hold the second bilateral maritime exercise off the coast of Western Australia next month. After not receiving a positive response from India on joining Exercise Malabar as an observer, Australia once again reiterated its interest in rejoining the multilateral maritime naval drill. "We see it as a natural extension of the deep defense relations between the two countries. We have expressed our interest. But it is still a matter in conversation, nothing concrete. It is a multi-lateral exercise so the decision has to be taken by other countries as well," Harinder Sidhu, Australian High Commissioner to India, had said earlier.
This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.