PORT KLANG: India is prepared to offer its fast-expanding ship-building technology to Malaysia and other countries.

It is also keen to collaborate on oceanic research concerning marine life, the weather, environment and natural disasters.

Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia Mridul Kumar said that India had achieved tremendous sales of its indigenously built vessels to Africa, Middle-East and Asian countries.

“We wish to share our technical and engineering expertise in the field of security, defence and maritime industries, for the mutual benefit of other nations.

“And Malaysia is most welcome to participate in possible joint-venture programmes in ship-building, just like we share technical knowledge and training in a lot of other aspects,” said Mridul, adding that India also wanted to collaborate on oceanic research.

He said this after hosting a reception on board the visiting oceanographic acoustic research vessel INS Sagardhwani at the National Hydrography Centre in Pulau Indah.

Present were the centre’s director-general Rear-Admiral Hanafiah Hassan, INS Sagardhwani’s commanding officer Commander Anuj Sharma, Indian defence adviser Col Anirudh Chauhan and its Defence Research and Development Organisation’s group director (ocean sciences) K.V. Sanil Kumar.

Mridul said that Malaysia was an important defence and security partner for his country, in preserving peace, stability and prosperity in the Indian Ocean and the region.

“Both countries share historical linkages dating back to the first century.

“This relationship which started with traders, developed into a more enriching one, where people of two countries exchanged not only goods but culture and language.

“No wonder, the similarities of India and Malaysia have such startling resemblance even today,” said Mridul, adding that a third of overseas ethnic Indians lived here.

India had, among others, assisted the Royal Malaysian Air Force in initially training its ground technical support crew and pilots when the country purchased 18 Russian MiG-29N Fulcrum air-superiority fighter jets in late 1995.

It similarly offered assistance when Malaysia subsequently acquired 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flankers in 2003.

Both purchases also involved offset deals in the barter trade of palm oil with India and Russia.

Mridul recounted how diplomatic relations began as far back as 1957, which led to regular high-level exchanges between the leaders of the both countries.

“In the last four years alone there have been four visits by the heads of state of both countries, including the visit by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Malaysia on May 31 last year.

“This strong relationship built over six decades is guided by the shared vision of equality, development and peaceful co-existence of all,” he said.

Mridul said that the defence relations dated back to the colonial days in early 1900s, when Madras Native Infantry troops were called upon to serve in Singapore, Malacca and Penang.

“During World War 2, the 9th and 11th Indian Infantry Divisions, as part of the 3rd British Indian Corps, fought the Japanese invaders in the defence of Malaya and Singapore.

“Our defence relations have steadily grown over the years and today it stands at its pinnacle.”

Mridul said in the past 18 months, there were several bilateral air, land and maritime defence training and exercises such as ‘Exercise Harimau Shakti’ and ‘Exercise Samudra Laksamana’, in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

“These demonstrate the growing mutual trust we share and the extent of our naval cooperation.

“Malaysia is barely 400 miles from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and we consider Malaysia as our maritime neighbour.

“Anything that happens in the Malacca Straits directly impacts India and, similarly, whatever happens in the Andaman Sea also directly affects Malaysia,” he said.

On INS Sagardhwani, Mridul said it was one of the Indian Navy’s over 200 ships in service and a vital component in his country’s maritime operations.

“Its deployment to the Indian Ocean is also to promote closer cooperation in socio-economic aspects, as well as greater scientific interaction,” he said.

Students and lecturers of Universiti Malaya’s Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences were given a first-hand briefing by the INS Sagardhwani’s operations.

“We are looking at the feasibility of establishing a collaborative research programme,” he said.

INS Sagardhwani sailed to Singapore yesterday after a five-day port-call to Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Anuj said that INS Sagardhwani was part of the the Indian Navy’s Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory.

The vessel was the brainchild of Modi’s 'Safety And Growth for All in the Region' (Sagar).

“It embarked on a two-month voyage on July 18 as part of the Sagar Maitri Mission-2 from the Southern Naval Command in Kochi.

“The ship comprises of scientific laboratories, equipped with a broad spectrum of equipment.

“They are used for measuring oceanographic, meteorological, geological and acoustic parameters to facilitate scientific experiments and surveys.

“These include the study on monsoons, environmental pollution, exploration of ocean resources, climate change and naval applications,” said Anuj.

He added that the vessel also had sophisticated deck-handling systems including deep-sea mooring winches that were capable of deploying and handling instruments for deep sea operations.

The vessel had earlier made port-calls at Yangon, Myanmar and Phuket, Thailand before its winds up its tour with a visit to Jakarta, Indonesia on Aug 19.

INS Sagardhwani, which has completed over 200 scientific missions, is celebrating its 25th year silver jubilee, since being commissioned in 1994.

Its deployment is also to commemorate the 50th golden jubilee of the successful completion of oceanographic observations carried out by INS Kistna, India’s lone research ship in the historic mission of International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE) during 1962-65.