INS Sumedha’s maritime odyssey: Strengthening India-Africa ties through journey of 22,000 nautical miles

by | Feb 4, 2024 | Monde

The Indian Navy ship has visited 12 African nations in 134 days

In a noteworthy feat of maritime diplomacy and operational capability, Indian Naval Ship (INS) Sumedha recently achieved a significant milestone, traversing 134 days and covering approximately 22,000 nautical miles while engaging with 12 African nations. This deployment heightens India’s commitment to enhancing maritime cooperation and building strong bilateral relationships with African countries.

During its operational deployment through the last year, INS Sumedha made several noteworthy port calls. In Kenya, the ship’s arrival at Port Lamu, on December 10, 2023 marked the maiden port call by any Indian Naval Ship at this recently developed port. Similarly, engagements in countries like Nigeria (October, 2023), Namibia (November, 2023), Mozambique (November, 2023), Senegal (September 2023), and Djibouti (August 2023), included various activities aimed at strengthening diplomatic relations, enhancing maritime cooperation, and boosting interoperability between the navies.

The activities during these visits ranged from professional interactions and planning conferences to cultural exchanges like joint Yoga sessions, deck receptions, and medical camps. The ship also engaged in Maritime Partnership Exercises (MPX) with various navies, focusing on communication drills, tactical manoeuvres, and flying operations.

Additionally, INS Sumedha participated in several multilateral exercises during its deployment in the region. On October 24, 2023, the European Union (EU) and India conducted their maiden joint naval exercise in the Gulf of Guinea, highlighting the shared commitment to maritime security in the region.

Another noteworthy multinational military exercise was Exercise Bright Star-23 in August. Led jointly by the US Central Command (CENTCOM) and the Egyptian Army, this exercise involved modulated tri-service cooperation. The collaborative defence capabilities and demonstrative sessions were a strategic manoeuvre to maintain peace and stability in the neighbouring African region.

INS Sumedha additionally performed a key role in rescue operations. In April 2023, the ship played a pivotal role in Operation Kaveri, helping in the evacuation of Indian nationals from Sudan amidst the heightened conflict in the region. The evacuees were taken to Jeddah from Port Sudan before their subsequent flights to India.

Commissioned on March 7, 2014, INS Sumedha is the third of the indigenously developed Saryu-class of the Indian Navy. Equipped with a variety of weapons and sensors, this Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) can carry multi-role helicopters and is deployed for multiple roles, both independently and in support of fleet operations. As part of the Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet based at Visakhapatnam, INS Sumedha functions under the operational command of the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command.

INS Sumedha’s deployments are in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of “Security and Growth for All in the Region” (SAGAR) and aim to build ‘bridges of friendship’ and strengthen international cooperation. With the current milestone, India strategically embodies its foreign policy’s focus on maritime security and regional prosperity.

Looking ahead to 2024, such missions are pitched to continue as part of India’s ongoing strategy to enhance maritime cooperation in the region. The Indian Navy’s deployment patterns suggest a sustained focus on operational readiness and promoting maritime diplomacy in the region.

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