The Indian Navy has handed over two Solas Marine fast interceptor craft to Mozambique and provided military training during a port visit by the tank landing ship INS Kesari.
Indian Naval Ship Kesari entered the Port of Maputo on 25 December under Mission Sagar, India’s initiative to deliver COVID-19 related assistance to countries in the Indian Ocean region. 500 tons of food aid was shipped by INS Kesari to support the efforts of Mozambique to cope with ongoing drought and the concurrent challenges of the pandemic.
In support of capacity building of the Mozambican military, INS Kesari delivered two 16 metre fast interceptor craft (T310 and T311) and self defence equipment that was handed over to the Armed Forces of Mozambique on 27 December.
The handover ceremony was attended by the High Commissioner of India in Mozambique, Shri Ankan Banerjee, India’s defence attache Captain Nitin Kapoor and the ship’s commanding officer, Commander Ashish Dutta.
The Indian Navy said that small arms training was conducted by INS Kesari for Mozambican military personnel and training was imparted by the Indian Navy training team to Mozambican Navy personnel on the new fast interceptors.
The fast interceptor craft were built by Solas Marine in Sri Lanka. A total of 80 craft were delivered to the Indian Navy between 2013 and 2017. The interceptors are 16 metres long with a draught of .8 metres. Water-jet propulsion gives a top speed of 45 knots and a range of 200 nautical miles at 12 knots. They can carry machineguns and feature bullet-resistant cabins.
One of the vessels (T311) delivered to Mozambique last month was several years ago used by the Indian Navy to demonstrate biodiesel fuel as part of its Green Initiatives Programme.
December’s vessel donation to Mozambique was not India’s first – in July 2019, India handed over two Larsen & Toubro interceptors to the Mozambican Navy as part of an agreement to strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries.
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.
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 2019. 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.
Since May 2020, INS Kesari has undertaken other Mission Sagar visits in the region, providing humanitarian and medical assistance to the Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros, including deployment of Medical Assistance Teams of the Indian Navy in multiple locations.
Since May 2020, the Indian Navy has deployed ships to 15 friendly foreign countries under Sagar missions. These deployments spanned over 215 days at sea have delivered a cumulative assistance of more than 3 000 tons of food aid, 900 oxygen concentrators and 20 ISO containers. Whilst undertaking these missions, Indian Naval Ships have traversed a cumulative distance of close to 40 000 nautical miles.