“Ocean-Going Tug: A Strategic Alliance Between Garden Reach Shipbuilders and the Bangladesh Navy”

Earlier this week, the Bangladesh Navy inked a deal with Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), a renowned Indian shipbuilding company, for the acquisition of an advanced 800-tonne ocean-going tug.

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A significant contract is set to be signed under a $500-million line of credit extended by India to Bangladesh for defense equipment procurement.

The agreement was inked last Sunday, June 30, in Dhaka by representatives of the Bangladesh Navy’s Directorate General of Defense Purchases and GRSE. This coincided with a four-day visit by Indian Navy Chief Admiral Dinesh K Tripathi, aimed at strengthening bilateral defense ties and exploring new avenues for naval cooperation.

As per the contract, a $21 million ship will be delivered to Bangladesh within 24 months.

Reports suggest that India has been keen on expanding its defense footprint in foreign markets, including Bangladesh.

GRSE, a prominent shipbuilder, signed an agreement last month with German companies Carsten RehderSchiffsmakler and Reederei GmbH & Co. to construct four multi-purpose vessels, each with a capacity of 7,500 DWT.

Previously, GRSE has exported an offshore patrol vessel to Mauritius and a fast patrol vessel to Seychelles, showcasing their expertise in the industry.

In February, a senior official from Mumbai’s Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd. (MDSL) highlighted the potential of the Indian shipbuilding industry, predicting a substantial market for commercial vessels from Europe, France, Greece, and the Middle East in the next five years.

India is home to 52 major shipbuilding industries, including both public and private entities, contributing to a significant global market demand for commercial vessels.

According to a 2022 report by Press Trust of India (PTI), GRSE, a defense PSU, built three advanced stealth frigates for the Indian Navy under Project 17A and is currently engaged in constructing seven vessels for foreign nations.

In addition to the six patrol boats for Bangladesh, the Kolkata-based shipbuilder is crafting an ocean-going cargo ferry vessel for the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, as quoted by PTI from a senior official.

The Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a Delhi-based global think tank, notes that the transformation of India’s naval shipbuilding capability has been a recurring topic in maritime discussions. Since the 1960s, when the Union Ministry of Defence acquired several shipyards and initiated the construction of Leander-class frigates at Mazagaon Dock Ltd (MD) in Mumbai, India has been committed to fostering an indigenous shipbuilding ecosystem.

Over the years, Indian naval ship production has made steady progress, significantly contributing to the country’s naval requirements. With a growing number of overseas deals, India aims to export more “Made in India” vessels to foreign nations.

According to The Maritime Executive, India signed a deal in November 2023 to construct 24 river-sea class cargo ships for Russia by 2027. This agreement comes as Russia faces sanctions from the West due to the Ukraine war, impacting its shipbuilding sector. The ships will be built at the state-owned Goa shipyard.

The Indian government has expressed its ambition to expand its shipbuilding sector, aiming to become a global player. This aligns with Russia’s need for alternative shipbuilding options, as reported by The Maritime Executive, citing senior Russian officials. The 24 ships include chemical carriers, bulk carriers, and container ships, showcasing the diversity of India’s shipbuilding capabilities.

This week, Indian government officials announced that the country’s shipping ministry is set to unveil a new shipbuilding and repair policy as part of its 100-day action plan. According to PTI, the Maritime India Vision 2030 (MIV 2030) aims to propel India into the top 10 in global shipbuilding and ship repair rankings, while the Amrit Kaal Vision 2047 sets an even more ambitious goal of reaching the top five.

According to a statement from the Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways (MoPSW), their strategic vision reflects India’s commitment to becoming a global maritime powerhouse. This ambitious goal is part of a comprehensive strategy to enhance India’s maritime infrastructure and capabilities, solidifying its position as a key player in the international maritime arena.

Tarah Nguyen
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