Alongwith the navies of 60 countries around the world (30 of which sent their major naval leaders), the Indian navy ships headed earlier this weekend to China. IINS Kolkata and Shakti arrived in Qingdao, China on April 21, 2019 to be part of the 70TH Anniversary celebrations of PLA (Navy). It is being called an International Fleet Review (IFR) which is basically a parade of naval ships, aircraft and submarines. In these shows, the various navies demonstrate their capabilities and strengths in an effort to promote goodwill and strengthen cooperation.
From the Indian side, the Indian Navy is taking along the indigenously built stealth guided missile destroyer called INS Kolkata (armed with supersonic Brahmos missiles and sensors) and a fleet support ship called INS Shakti (which provides provide fuel, provisions and munitions to warships which are in the battles at sea). INS Kolkata is commanded by Captain Aditya Hara, while INS Shakti is commanded by Captain Sriram Amur.
Chinese official video provokes the Vietnamese
Interestingly, if promoting goodwill is the one of the main objectives of the IFRs, then the PLA (Navy) created a major controversy when it rubbed the Vietnamese on the wrong side. The official video of the celebrations showed scenes from 1988 Spratly Islands massacre.
You see, the Chinese had attacked Vietnamese in March 1988. There was a major disagreement and fight over the Spratly islets ostensibly due to the natural resources and access to the ocean routes. Both Vietnam and China claim ownership and by April 1988, while Vietnamese controlled 21 islets, the Chinese occupied 6. Here is a video that explains the massacre.
Meanwhile, the Indian navy had arrived via the Taiwan Strait, which is a narrow strip in Pacific separating China and Taiwan and claimed by both. Before coming over to Qingdao, the Indian Navy ships were docked at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. There, they had conducted a bilateral exercise with the Vietnam Navy.
Fun and Games by Navy bands
The Indian Navy band played Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Uptown Funk as they “brought down the house”.
The Bangladeshis played the local favorite – Karaoke version of 月亮代表我的心
Australian Navy did not send its fleet unfortunately. And for the rest of the countries, here is a pretty good summary.
Indian Navy has come a long way and is a leading force, specifically in the Indian Ocean. It is important that we keep it that way.