India and Sri Lanka have a close, long-standing relationship covering a wide spectrum of activities and interactions, which have strengthened over the years. The people of India and Sri Lanka have close cultural bonds and a shared vision of a democratic and pluralistic society.
Indian Naval Ships Tir and Sujata, along with Indian Coast Guard Ship Varuna, comprising the first Training Squadron, are scheduled to visit Colombo, Sri Lanka today and shall stay till 19th of April as part of their Overseas Deployment during Spring Term 2016.
The first training squadron:
The First Training Squadron forms part of Southern Naval Command (SNC) and comprises Indian Naval Ships Tir, Shardul, Sujata, ICGS Varuna and two Sail Training Ships Sudarshini and Tarangini, all of which have been built in India.
The primary aim of the Squadron is to impart sea training to Naval and Coast Guard trainees, with a 24 weeks ab-initio sea training being imparted.
All the trainees are trained in Seamanship, Navigation, Ship Handling, Boat Work, Technical aspects, etc. whilst being exposed to the rigours of life at sea, so as to earn their 'sea legs'.
The Southern Naval Command (SNC) is the Training Command of the Indian Navy, which provides both basic and advanced training to officers and sailors of the Indian Navy.
The Indian Navy has also been providing training to personnel from friendly foreign countries for more than four decades, wherein more than 13,000 personnel from over 40 countries have been trained.
The Indian Navy's focused approach for providing high quality training by constantly adapting to evolving tactics and technologies, has gained it a reputation of being one of the finest training destinations.
Strategic importance of such visits:
Such visits are considered important from strategic point of view also as Sri Lanka in November 2014 had allowed a Chinese submarine and a warship to its port in Colombo, despite India warning. This was considered as violation of the July 1987 accord between India and Lanka.
The strategic powerplay in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) continues between China and India. After China's three warships left Colombo in January this year two frontline Indian warships including aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya had entered Colombo.
While INS Vikramaditya was on a friendly visit to Colombo, Sri Lanka's President Maitripala Sirisena had gotten on board India's biggest warship and aircraft carrier.
There has been a growing concern in India about China's growing naval activities in the IOR. India has lately tried to counter China's attempt to develop maritime relations with Sri Lanka and other island nations in the India Ocean and Bay of Bengal like Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Visits by IN and SLN ships to each other's countries as well as bilateral exercises such as SLINEX provide opportunities for extensive operational and training engagements and contribute to the maintenance of good order at sea between India and Sri Lanka.
The present deployment of the Training Squadron to Colombo would further cement the close relations between the two nations and the two navies.