The docking of a United States Navy dry cargo ship for repairs at an Indian ship repair house in Chennai last week marks a significant milestone in Indo-US military ties. However, bilateral strategic ties have progressed significantly in the past decade. The reciprocal repair of military ships was still a milestone that was not exceeded. With the arrival of Charles Drew at the Larsen & Toubro (L&T) facility at Kattupalli Dockyard, India has moved past a US-imposed embargo.
India-US has evolved into a “global strategic partnership” based on shared democratic values and growing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and global issues. The regular exchange of high-level political visits has provided continued momentum to bilateral cooperation. Whereas a comprehensive and continuously expanded dialogue mechanism has established a long-term framework for India-US.
During the bilateral talks held in April this year, the two countries had agreed to explore the possibility of using the Indian shipyard for repair and maintenance of US Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships. In the weeks following that meeting, MSC conducted a detailed audit of Indian yards. and approved the facility at Kattupalli for repair of US military ships.
The docking of a Uinted satets military vessel at an Indian facility has both functional and Geo-Political implications.
Functionally, this indicates a more efficient use of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement Agreement is a military logistics agreement signed by India with the US in 2017. The presence of USNS Charles Drew in an Indian dockyard, as Indian observers used to believe, is an impetus for ‘Self-reliant India’ and ‘Make-in-India’. From a political point of view, this incident is very remarkable. Because it signals the consolidation of the India-US partnership and the Quad (India, Japan, Australia and the United States) security dialogue.