India, US navies to sail together in Indo-Pacific waters soon

India, US navies to sail together in Indo-Pacific waters soon

The warships of India and the United States will soon sail together in the Indo-Pacific waters, according to a new roadmap New Delhi and Washington recently worked out for implementing their joint strategic vision for Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region.

Though the roadmap does not implicitly propose joint patrol by Indian and American naval vessels in the disputed South China Sea, it apparently reflects broader synergy between the navies of the two nations in response to increasing maritime assertiveness by Beijing.

“I hope that in the not too distant future, United States and Indian Navy vessels steaming together will become a common and welcome sight throughout Indo-Pacific waters,” US ambassador to India, Richard R Verma, said, while speaking at an event organised by Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents and India International Centre in New Delhi.

He said that India and America of late concluded “a roadmap for the implementation of the historic joint strategic vision for the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Regions”, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama announced in New Delhi in January 2015.

“Our countries will cooperate as never before on the high seas, during responses to natural disasters, on maritime security issues and in consultation with other partners and allies in the region,” said Verma.

India and US concluded the roadmap for greater maritime cooperation in Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, at a time when China’s dispute with its neighbours–Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Philippines–over South China Sea escalated. Amid reports about China deploying surface-to-air missiles in one of the disputed islands in South China Sea, New Delhi last week joined US and other nations to ask Beijing to refrain from taking any “unilateral action” in the region.

India earlier joined US and Japan to stress that freedom of navigation in international waters must be protected and sovereignty issues must be resolved peacefully in accordance with accepted principles of international law, including the United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.

Beijing’s bid to create strategic assets in Indian Ocean region encircling India has also been a cause of concern for New Delhi.