Chennai’s L&T shipyard has been repairing US Navy ships for five years

The L&T shipyard in Kattupalli, near Chennai, is set to become a center for repairs of US Navy ships, including battleships, for five years, as the US Navy signs a five-year Master Shipyard Repair Agreement (MSRA) with the company has.

The first ship under the agreement to undergo steel repairs, the USNS Salvor, a salvage ship that does not carry weapons, arrived in Kattupalli port on Monday. The maintenance of the hull will be carried out during his two-week stay. In November, the ship will undergo a major overhaul for 90 days.

The head of the Office of Defense Cooperation at the US Embassy in New Delhi, Capt. Michael L. Farmer, told reporters after a ship handover ceremony that the agreement was finalized last month and the ships of the US military sealift commands would be repaired first. It is possible that future Navy battleships will also be brought in for repairs, he said. “This is part of the agreement, but that will depend
Position of ships in the region,” he added.

Sailing ships of the Seventh Fleet are being repaired in Chennai.

“The shipyard was selected after meeting the requirements set by the Navy. As more shipyards in India become eligible, they will also be added to allow ships on the African side to go to Mumbai or west coast ports for repairs,” he said.

Attempts to look for additional ports, particularly on the west coast of India, are significant as India lies in the region where there is a borderline between US Pacific Command and Central Command.

He denied the claim that this was an attempt to set up a US base in India.

“This is a good place for servicing our ships. Indian vessels use the same engine and have the experience needed to do the job,” he added.

Arun Ramchandani, Executive Vice President of L&T, said, “This is the US Navy’s third ship to come here for repairs. This reaffirms America’s confidence in us to meet their needs. We could supply high quality products. Numerous ships of the Indian Navy are repaired here. Friendly countries have also approached us with the task.”

Commenting on the improvement in capacity to handle ship repairs, he said the shipyard has sufficient capacity to carry out work. “There are 1,000 acres and we have potential to grow within ourselves as we see more opportunities to repair Indian Navy, Coast Guard and other country vessels.”

The shipyard can also be rapidly expanded to service the INS Vikranth if the Indian Navy wishes to do so at Kattupalli. “This is a long-term matter and the Navy must decide,” he replied to a question from reporters.

US Consul General Judith Ravin said, “The MSRA is a symbol of our strengthened US-India partnership. The USNS Salvor is the first US ship to perform an in-voyage repair with L&T under this agreement. The agreement is a legally non-binding agreement between the US Navy and private shipbuilders to pre-approve shipyards for the repair of US Navy vessels. It requires a rigorous verification process. For example, the contractor must
be able to complete 55% or more of a ship’s work package; own facilities; use of own shops and employees; Maintaining a track record of a safe work environment; and be able to subcontract to ensure adequate oversight of the repair of the voyage.”

Commenting on the strategic importance of the connection, she said the agreement with L&T shows how the US Navy and Indian companies could better work together in advancing our collective maritime security. “By working together to repair U.S. Navy vessels economically and effectively, our shipping industry is making a positive contribution to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” she added.

“I want to share a few statistics with you that show how close our two countries are: the United States is India’s largest trading partner with more than $191 billion in mutual trade; India conducts more military exercises with the United States than with any other country; Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the United States in June; and we await President Biden’s visit to India soon. This will lead to two top-level summits between our countries in less than six months.”

She also said that the United States is committed to realizing the vital US-India defense partnership through increased information sharing, regional security cooperation, defense trade and cooperation in new areas.

The agreement with L&T follows successful en route repairs to two US Navy ships – USNS Charles Drew and USNS Matthew Perry – at Kattupalli. The ships were repaired after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed their intention to conduct maintenance in India during the US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.

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