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Pranab to visit Maldives, hand over fast track craft

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 13 (UNI) Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee will leave for the Maldives on April 15 for a two-day visit to hold talks on bilateral cooperation and regional security issues, and hand over a fast attack craft, INS Tillanchang, to the island nation.

During his visit, which is at the invitation of Maldives Minister for Defence and National Security Ismail Shafeeu, Mr Mukherjee will have extensive talks with Mr Shafeeu and Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed on issues mainly concerning regional security.

He will also call on President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

On April 16, he will hand over INS Tillanchang to the Maldivian authorities.

Specifically designed to detect and destroy fast moving surface craft or intercept vessels engaged in poaching or smuggling, INS Tillanchang will be renamed HURAVEE, after a Maldivian hero and freedom fighter, under the Maldives flag.

The Indian Navy will also position a team of personnel for initial and on-the-job training of the Maldivian crew.

INS Darshak, accompanying Tillanchang to the Maldives, will add impetus to the cooperation initiative by carrying out a hydrographic survey of Maldivian waters till next month.

Named after one of the islands of the Andaman and Nicobar chain, INS Tillanchang was built by Defence Public Sector Undertaking, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata and was inducted into the Indian Navy five years ago.

The 260 tonne Trinkat class fast attack craft is fitted with state-of-the-art navigation aids, communication and GMDSS Systems, which facilitate her role-worthiness and effectiveness in operational missions, air operations, safe navigation and survival at sea.

The main armament is the indigenous 30 mm gun, manufactured by Ordnance factory Medak. Two high speed boats have been provided onboard for facilitating rapid interception in shallow waters and lifesaving tasks.

Powered by MTU engines of German make, it has a maximum speed of 28 knots and is capable of extended deployment up to 2000 nautical miles. The ship is also capable of mobilising a naval Quick Reaction Team of up to 35 men at short notice.

The Maldives has an urgent need for surveillance and patrolling of its extensive Exclusive Economic Zone for which a vessel with such dual capacity is an important tool.

Since construction of a new vessel involves a considerable time span, the Indian Government, at the request of the Maldives, decided to meet the immediate need of the Maldives Coast Guard by transferring INS Tillanchang to the Maldives authorities. The ship transfer also includes a component of technical and material assistance by the Indian Navy to the Maldives over a period of three years after the transfer.


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