In a significant display of bilateral strategic and defense partnership, India has handed over its active-use corvette, INS Kirpan, to the Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN). Amidst the vast ocean of territorial disputes lies a significant move. Vietnam, a key member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is in a dispute with its neighbor China over the South China Sea.
The ceremony, which took place at the Vietnamese deep water bay of Cam Ranh, was presided over by Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar during his official visit to Vietnam. The transfer of INS Kirpan signifies not only a deep-rooted friendship but also a testament to India’s commitment to expanding its defense cooperation with Vietnam.
A Historic Gesture
This gesture holds historical significance as it marks the first time India has handed over a fully operational corvette to a friendly foreign country. The Navy Chief, Admiral Kumar, emphasized the importance of the event, highlighting India’s vision of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” — One Earth, One Family, One Future — which resonates with the transfer of INS Kirpan to the Vietnam People’s Navy.
Safeguarding Common Interests
With territorial disputes in the South China Sea region, both India and Vietnam share common concerns over China’s increasingly aggressive behavior. Vietnam, being a vital member of ASEAN, plays a crucial role in maintaining regional peace and stability. To protect their national maritime interests and promote regional security, India and Vietnam have been actively boosting their maritime security cooperation over the last few years.
INS Kirpan: A Symbol of Defense Partnership
INS Kirpan, a corvette that served the Indian Navy for 32 years, has been a crucial part of the Eastern Fleet and has actively participated in various operations. The transfer of this indigenously built Khukri-class missile corvette symbolizes India’s status as a preferred security partner in the Indian Ocean Region. This transfer aligns with the announcement made by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh last month, wherein India expressed its intention to gift an in-service missile corvette to Vietnam.
Strengthening Multilateral Ties
The ceremony underscores the commitment to expand and deepen India-Vietnam defense partnership not only bilaterally but also within the broader multilateral framework. It shows their dedication to promoting peace, stability, and adherence to an international rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.
Ensuring Maritime Security
Maritime security remains a priority for both nations, given China’s increasing military muscle flexing in the South China Sea. By entrusting INS Kirpan to the Vietnam Navy, India expresses complete confidence in their ability to operate and maintain the corvette. This mutual trust reflects the collective commitment to safeguarding national maritime interests, contributing to regional security, and fostering peace and stability.
A Historic Journey
INS Kirpan’s final journey under the Indian tricolor from India to Vietnam commenced on June 28 and culminated in Cam Ranh, Vietnam, on July 8. This historic journey signifies the bond shared between the two countries and represents their shared vision of a peaceful and secure Indo-Pacific region.
India-Vietnam Defense Partnership: Looking Ahead
Over the years, India has steadily bolstered its defense partnership with Vietnam, making notable contributions in enhancing Vietnam’s defense technological capabilities. Additionally, India’s support in the establishment of an Army Software Park with a $5 million grant showcases its commitment to aiding Vietnam’s progress.
The transfer of INS Kirpan from the Indian Navy to the Vietnam People’s Navy exemplifies the depth of India-Vietnam friendship and strategic partnership. As both nations navigate the vast seas, they stand united in upholding the principles of freedom, justice, and an international rules-based order. This gesture not only strengthens bilateral ties but also reinforces India’s role as a preferred security partner in the Indian Ocean Region.