03:25 GMT10 July 2020
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    The Indian Navy is looking to bolster its military capabilities at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, situated near the Strait of Malacca - one of the world's major maritime choke-points.

    The Indian Navy on Wednesday commissioned its fifth L55 landing craft ship, following a ceremony at Port Blair. The Mk-IV class ship is indigenously designed and built by the state-owned Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata. 

    READ MORE: Chinese Submarine Tracked in the Indian Ocean in October — Indian Navy Chief

    The Indian Defence Ministry signed a $310 million contract with the GRSE for eight MK IV class ships in September 2011. The first LCU of this class was commissioned in March 2017.  

    ​The amphibious ship will play a crucial role in the region, with the primary task of transportation and deployment of main battle tanks, armoured vehicles, troops and equipment from ship to shore.

    The ship, commanded by Lt Cdr Abhishek Kumar, has a complement of five officers, 45 sailors and is capable of carrying 160 troops.

    "The ship, displacing 830 tons, is capable of transporting various kinds of combat equipment such as the Main Battle Tank, T72 and other vehicles. The ship is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and advanced systems like the Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and integrated platform management system," a statement by the Indian Navy read.

    For the last two years, India has massively enhanced its naval capabilities at the Andaman and Nicobar Command. Apart from the five LCUs, a floating dock for warships and one P-8i submarine killer aircraft have also been deployed to keep an eye on the movements of the Chinese Navy.

    READ MORE: India, Japan Sign Maritime Pact to Monitor Chinese Warships in Asia-Pacific

    Defence Sources told Sputnik that a feasibility study to have another airbase on the Great Nicobar Island is at an advanced stage. The Navy already has the INS Baaz, a naval air station at Campbell, established in 2012. The Indian government has been transforming the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, building longer runways for fighter aircraft.

    The remaining three ships of the same class are in advanced stages of production at the GRSE facility in Kolkata and are scheduled to be inducted over the next year and a half.


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