NEW DELHI: Cadets from the Royal Saudi Naval Forces have arrived in India to take part in three weeks of training with their counterparts from the Indian Navy, the first such collaboration between the two nations.
The Saudi contingent comprises 55 trainees and five instructional staff from the King Fahd Naval Academy. They arrived this week at a naval base in Kochi, in Kerala state on the southwestern coast of India, the Southern Naval Command said on Thursday.
The planned 24-day exercise was “a major stride toward mutual cooperation” between the Indian Navy and Royal Saudi Naval Forces, the command said in a series of tweets.
“On arrival, a warm welcome was accorded to the trainees,” it said. “To provide firsthand experience of sail ships, the cadets would be attached to sail training ship INS Sudarshini.”
Program marks ‘major stride toward mutual cooperation,’ Southern Naval Command says.
The cadets, from the Kingdom’s main naval academy at the King Abdulaziz Naval Base in Jubail, arrived aboard their host’s First Training Squadron vessels INS Tir and INS Sujata.
The First Training Squadron of the Indian Navy are the first ships that newly commissioned naval officers train on.
The training program for Saudis is seen as a display of growing defense ties between the two countries.
“The first-ever training program in an Indian naval base for Saudi sailors indicates the growing confidence of the Saudi security establishment in developing contacts with Indian forces. This program will lead to more such engagements in the future,” defense expert Ranjit Kumar told Arab News.
“This is indicative of deepening strategic relations between India and Saudi Arabia.”