INS RANA guided-missile destroyer on patrol duty in the Indian Ocean region

India and China may have faced-off for 73 days in Doklam last year, but naval officers of the two countries had a reunion on the high seas. ThePrint listens in.

“Hey, hello”

“Suanshu, hi”
(name changed).

The first caller is the commanding officer of the INS Rana, an Indian Navy warship.

The man who responded to the call was leading the Chinese warship, the Yancheng.

It happened this Monday.

The Rana is a destroyer. It packs a lot of firepower.

The Yancheng is a frigate, a smaller ship that is versatile.

Rapists, lynchers, misogynysts, haters, listen in.

Listen in to the international maritime radio frequency, Channel 16.

This is how those at sea talk.

India and China are supposed to be rivals, right?

Fifty nautical miles south east from the southern tip of Sri Lanka they want beer and cheer.

The captains of the Rana and the Yancheng are talking in troubled waters. India and China are talking. This is the monsoon.

They debated – The Print cannot disclose names of serving officers – whose beer was best.

The Admiral who has given The Print this narrative was at sea for 20 years.

“I am still at sea,” he says of his desk job in defence headquarters, New Delhi.

The Rana is based, or “homeported”, in Visakhapatnam. She is from India’s Eastern Naval Command.

The Yancheng is headed for Qingdao.

And this is how the conversation flew:

“So, you are taking Sunda?”
(A reference to the Sunda Straits that is, apart from the Malacca Straits, a narrow waterway between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea).

“Yes, but am also coming to Madras next month,” the Chinese commander replied.

“Have a good time in Jakarta”, said the Indian.

He was giving out that he knew the Chinese’s whereabouts and wheretofores.

As it happens, the CO of the Rana and the CO of the Yancheng were mates in a military course years back. The Yancheng captain couldn’t say “Chennai”. He said “Madras”.

The Yancheng of the PLA-N (Peoples Liberation Army-Navy) was part of the 28th ATF (Anti-Piracy Task Force), east of Aden. The 29th has now taken over.

It is returning home after a three-month deployment. A submarine is not part of its battlegroup. A PLA-N submarine is usually an accompaniment.

The Rana, one of India’s favourite ships is in IODEP (Indian Ocean Deployment), one of seven “mission deployed” flotillas.