14:15 GMT +321 May 2018
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    Australian navy ship Ocean Shield

    Australian Border Force’s Largest Ship Arrives in India

    © AP Photo / Rob Griffith, File
    Asia & Pacific
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    Amid India’s reluctance to allow the Australian Navy to be part of the annual trilateral Exercise Malabar, the Australian Border Force Cutter (ABFC) Ocean Shield ship has arrived at Chennai on a two-day visit to India as part of international co-operation.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — Naval forces of India, Japan and the US hold Exercise Malabar every year. Following a 2007 demarche issued by China to the four countries participating in the drills, Australia pulled out from Malabar in 2008. It is now keen to rejoin the exercise.

    "The ship will be at Chennai until May 20, 2017. During the visit at Chennai, various events are planned by the Indian Coast Guard for mutual interaction to develop Inter-Operability between the two maritime forces," a statement issued by the Indian Coast Guard said.

    ​The 500-ton, 105-meters long and 21-meters wide ABFC Ocean Shield is the largest ship in the Australian Border Force fleet. It can accommodate up to 100 people, has more than 1000 meters deck area, and a medium-size helipad on the bow. The ship was constructed as an offshore support vessel by a Romanian company STK OSV and was later inducted as ABFC ‘Ocean Shield', an offshore patrol vessel on June 30, 2012. The ship achieves a maximum speed of 16 knots with a displacement of 8,500 tons and draws 6.6 meters draught.

    India and Australia will hold the second bilateral maritime exercise off the coast of Western Australia next month. After not receiving a positive response from India on joining Exercise Malabar as an observer, Australia once again reiterated its interest in rejoining the multilateral maritime naval drill. "We see it as a natural extension of the deep defense relations between the two countries. We have expressed our interest. But it is still a matter in conversation, nothing concrete. It is a multi-lateral exercise so the decision has to be taken by other countries as well," Harinder Sidhu, Australian High Commissioner to India, had said earlier.




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