India has handed over two fast interceptor boats to Mozambique as part of an agreement to strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries.
The boats were handed over on 29 July during a ceremony at Mozambican Naval Headquarters, coinciding with a visit by India’s Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh. It was Singh’s first visit abroad as Defence Minister and the first-ever visit of an Indian Defence Minister to Mozambique.
Mozambican Navy officers and personnel underwent training on the boats in India in November last year ahead of delivery. A four-member team from the Indian Coast Guard is assisting with training and support for the maintenance and operation of the two boats, which will be used for coastal surveillance.
The boats are built by India’s Larsen & Toubro. The 30 metre long fast interceptors (named Namiliti and Umbeluzi), displace 90 tonnes, have a top speed of 45 knots, range of 500 nautical miles and are typically armed with machineguns. They are powered by two Caterpillar marine engines and two auxiliary generators. Waterjets are used for high speed performance. The aluminium-hulled vessels are crewed by a dozen sailors and are designed for surveillance, patrol, search and rescue, anti-poaching, counter-smuggling and other maritime security missions.
The Indian Defence Ministry said Singh paid an official visit to Mozambique between 28 and 30 July, during which time he called on Carlos Agostinho do Rosario, the Prime Minister of Mozambique. He also held delegation-level talks with his counterpart Atanasio Salvador M’tumuke. After the talks, two Memoranda of Understanding were signed between the Government of India and the Government of Mozambique. The agreements covered the sharing of shipping information and cooperation in the field of hydrography.
“The signing of the two MoUs will further strengthen the ongoing Indo-Mozambican defence co-operation,” the Defence Ministry said. “The visit witnessed the growing defence co-operation between Mozambique and India, and the potential such collaboration offers for enhancing security in the Indian Ocean Region.” This includes working together to prevent non-traditional threats like smuggling, terrorism, piracy, poaching, etc. and overall co-operation in the maritime domain.
During his visit, Singh also announced it would be assisting Mozambique with communication equipment. India also handed over 44 SUVs.
In light of a number of terror attacks, the Mozambican side sought cooperation from India to deal with terrorism and radicalisation, with Singh assuring the two nations would work together in this regard.
India has cultivated close ties with Mozambique and in 2011 affirmed its commitment to help Mozambique with maritime security and anti-piracy. Indian Navy warships have visited the country and helped provide humanitarian assistance after Cyclone Idai in March this year. In November 2014 the Indian Navy vessel INS Teg took part in a goodwill visit to Mozambique after Exercise Ibsamar in South Africa, and in July 2017 India’s Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Sunil Lanba visited Mozambique and Tanzania to consolidate bilateral defence relations.