“Vietnam serves as an important partner in India’s ‘Indo-Pacific Vision’, which aims to strengthen ties and develop partnerships to keep the region safe and stable,” said Admiral Kumar, presiding over the ceremony at Cam Ranh.
“The recent signing of the ‘Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defense Partnership to 2030’ will significantly enhance the scope and scale of existing security collaboration and ensure that no ‘single’ nation can unilaterally alter or misinterpret the rules to serve its own interests in the Indo-Pacific,” it added.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh had announced the “gift” of IN S Kirpan, the 1,450-tonne Khukri-class missile corvette in service with the Indian Navy, during his meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, General Phan Van Giang, in New Delhi on June 19, in another military overture to the Southeast Asian country.
China has been regularly sending warships and inspection vessels into Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), fueling tensions in the already contentious South China Sea over Beijing’s expansionist territorial claims against its neighbors.
“Both India and Vietnam are responsible members of the global community and regularly demonstrate their commitment to upholding the principles of fairness and justice enshrined in the international legal framework,” Admiral Kumar said.
The navy chief referred to India as having “graciously accepted” the International Court of Justice decision giving Bangladesh access to a larger maritime area in a disputed stretch of the Bay of Bengal.
“Such examples set a precedent for resolving future disputes through shared values of peaceful means, respecting international law and strengthening ties between two nations,” he said.
The 90-meter-long INS Kirpan, which is crewed by 12 officers and 100 ratings, was decommissioned from the Indian Navy after completing 32 years of service and handed over with a “full complement of weapons” to the Vietnam People’s Army (VPN).
“Today’s handover ceremony symbolizes the deep-seated friendship and strategic partnership between India and Vietnam. This is the first time that India has offered a fully operational corvette to any friendly foreign country,” said Admiral Kumar.
India has been steadily improving defense ties with ASEAN countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines through regular joint exercises, military exchanges and training programmes. To this end, India is now also seeking to intensify the training of Vietnamese personnel in combat aircraft and submarine operations, cyber security and electronic warfare, among other fields.