NEW DELHI: India’s navy chief said on Friday that training of Saudi naval personnel by Indian forces was testimony to the growing relationship between the two countries.
Adm. R. Hari Kumar was speaking after welcoming Saudi cadets training on board two Indian naval vessels.
Fifty-five students and five instructors from the King Fahd Naval Academy have been in India since May 18 for a three-week course with the Southern Naval Command in Kochi, Kerala.
The students, all from the main naval academy of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, are attached to India’s First Training Squadron ships INS Tir and INS Sujata.
For most of the students the course is their first experience on board a warship.
“The cadets have completed 10 days at sea aboard the Indian naval ships. During the sea sorties, they were exposed to rigorous training on practical aspects of navigation and seamanship with emphasis on navigation in pilotage waters, anchoring, coastal navigation, replenishment at sea, sea boats, firefighting and emergency drills,” the Indian Ministry of Defense said in a statement after the cadets’ meeting with Kumar.
“The directing staff expressed their appreciation of the high-quality training and exposure that they received on board the IN ships. In his address, the CNS welcomed the RSNF delegation in India, and reaffirmed that the maiden training of Saudi cadets by the Indian Navy as testimony to the growing friendship between Saudi Arabia and India, and also the two navies.”
The navy chief also voiced his appreciation for Saudi assistance in the recent evacuation of 3,000 Indian nationals from war-torn Sudan and acknowledged the increasingly strong defense ties with the Kingdom.
Experts, too, acknowledge the growing importance of India’s security relations with Saudi Arabia.
“It’s a significant gesture by the Indian naval chief,” defense expert Ranjit Kumar told Arab News.
“India seems to be taking special care of the evolving defense cooperation and partnership with a major Gulf country. India considers this relationship very important to groom in view of changing geopolitical dynamics in West Asia.”
Muddassir Quamar, a Middle East expert and associate professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said there have also been efforts to develop cooperation in nonconventional defense areas, as well as the defense industry.
“The military-to-military ties are likely to develop further, with greater efforts toward interoperability and understanding each other’s security concerns,” he told Arab News.
“Both India and Saudi Arabia are G20 economies and important international actors, and greater security bodes well for security in the western Indian Ocean region.”