In what is perceived as defence cooperation between India and the US, Salvor became the first US vessel to dock at Tamil Nadu’s Kattupalli shipyard after the US signed a deal with L&T.
This is the third US naval vessel undergoing repair activities in India. On August 7, last year, the US Navy vessel dubbed Charles Drew reached the Kattupalli shipyard for repair work. The ship reportedly arrived at the Kattupalli shipyard after the US allotted a contract to Larsen & Toubro (L&T). Another vessel named Matthew Perry was also duly repaired there earlier in 2023.
The deal with L&T is going to be valid for five years. The US consul General based in Chennai, Judith Ravin, mentioned that it is a landmark development and denotes an enhanced partnership between US and India.
This is being viewed as a validation of the capability of the Indian shipbuilding industry coming of age, as the US opted for this after a certification procedure. With six shipyards based in India, it is a two billion industry considered cost-effective and wide-ranging. The L&T Shipyard has built 70 ships and repaired or refitted 100 vessels in the last decade, catering to foreign and domestic clients.
Arun Ramchandani, the Head of Defence at L&T Shipyard, said it is an enabling deal and a wonderful beginning.
Such a move, however, has encountered several oppositions over ecological issues.
The frequent sailing of large ships, environmentalists claim, would lead to the port’s expansion in an environmentally sensitive area.
G Sundarrajan, an environmentalist and the founder of Poovulagin Nanbargal, informed NDTV that expansion could potentially destroy the Barrier Island and allow seawater to enter the lagoon. The adjacent Pulicat Lake is the second-largest brackish water lake. This would trigger large sea erosion. Fishermen would be losing their livelihood.
The US used to get its vessels repaired in Asia in Japan and Korea earlier. There are speculations that this deal could alter the landscape of the coast of Tamil Nadu into a geopolitical hotspot.
Sundarrajan explained that they are against war. China and the US, according to his statement, can fight anywhere, and there is no reason why others should become potential targets. The US has, however, totally denied this. Captain Michael Farmer, the US Chief associated with Defense Cooperation, said that the US has not devised plans to build a naval base here.
This development comes amid China taking over Hambantota port (Sri Lanka) on a 99-year lease following the nation’s loan default.
Responding to pressing environmental problems, Arun Ramchandani added that necessary environmental clearances have been received. The expansion will be within the available 4,000 acres here.
Reference: NDTV, The Hindu, Rediff
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