A top officer of the United States Navy on Tuesday hailed the role of the Indian Navy in ensuring free movement of trade in the Indian Ocean and said it had made several technological strides recently.
Vice-Admiral Joseph Aucoin of the Seventh Fleet, who is in Mumbai on his first visit, has spent the last two days meeting his counterparts in the Indian Navy and inspecting the Mazagaon Dock and shipbuilding yard. On Tuesday, he was given a tour of the indigenously built stealth-guided missile destroyer INS Kochi and the six Scorpene-class submarines that are currently being constructed.
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“It (INS Kochi) is a beautiful ship. It is one of the cleanest ships that I’ve ever been on. It really bodes well. The Indian Navy is the most powerful navy in this part of the world. They are our lynchpin in maintaining security in this part of the region,” Aucoin said.
The Vice-Admiral arrived in Mumbai aboard the USS Blue Ridge, the command ship of the Seventh Fleet, which is forward deployed in Yokosuka, Japan. “There are many challenges in the world, challenges to the rule of the law. And I think our two countries, and what we represent, we need to stand together to ensure that the world keeps moving in the right direction,” Aucoin said.
The presence of the US Navy in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, he added, had ensured that Asian countries, including China, have prospered in the past few years. “For the past 75 years, this area of the world has really thrived. The countries here, including China, have really prospered,” he said.
The Indian Navy, Aucoin said, would participate in a joint exercise in the Pacific Ocean with the US Navy and Japanese Navy later this year.
“The point of these exercises is to ensure that we have inter-operability, that we are able to communicate back and forth and integrate our missions. These are our three primary missions — maritime security, counter-terrorism and humanitarian assistance in disasters,” he said.
Aucoin said the US Navy was keeping a close watch on developments in North Korea, which recently claimed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. “My ships are standing by in preparation for whatever North Korea might do next,” Aucoin said.