Indian Shipbuilding firm RDEL to Maintain Warships of United States Seventh Fleet
Reliance Defense and Engineering, Ltd (RDEL), one of India's leading shipbuilding and repair firms, on Feb. 13 signed a Master Ship Repair Agreement (MSRA) with the U.S. Navy to maintain ships of the United States Seventh Fleet with headquarters at Yokosuka, Japan.
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Seventh Fleet ships currently undergo maintenance and repairs at either Singapore or Japan. RDEL expects to earn up to $10 billion from the contract over the next five years.
The Seventh Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. Fleets. It consists of anywhere from 60 to 70 ships, 300 aircraft and 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Its area of operations includes the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.
Of the ships typically assigned to the Seventh Fleet, about 20 are forward deployed from U.S. facilities in Japan and Guam and are capable of responding immediately to any maritime crisis in Asia.
Indian media said this is the first time an Indian company, either public or private, will provide logistical support for the U.S. military within Indian territory. The signing of the MSRA is a follow-up to the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) signed between India and the U.S. in August 2016.
LEMOA is a foundational agreement between India and the U.S. that will allow the military forces of both nations to use each other's military bases in the Indo-Pacific region.
RDEL said its "selection by the U.S. Navy is a true recognition of the world-class facility, processes and the high standard of the capability of Reliance Shipyard at Pipavav." Spanning an area of two square kilometers, the Pipavav shipyard in Gujarat is the site of RDEL's shipbuilding and maintenance operations.
The Pipavav shipyard was qualified and approved to perform complex repair and alteration services for the U.S. Navy last month after a detailed site survey conducted by U.S. government representatives in October 2016.
RDEL also said it's the first shipyard in India to have received MSRA Certification for the servicing and repair work for the vessels of the Seventh Fleet.
LEMOA will immensely aid the U.S. in its massive redeployment of its military forces to Asia because instead of having to build new military bases, U.S. forces can operate out of India's military bases on the Indian mainland.
For its part, India will have access to U.S. bases in the Indian Ocean such as the one on Diego Garcia atoll in the Chagos Archipelago.