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Navy deploys amphibious warship in Indian Ocean region

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Navy has deployed an amphibious warship for surveillance in the Indian Ocean region which has been witnessing growing Chinese assertiveness.

The Navy said the warship INS Shardul has been deployed in keeping with India's national objective of ensuring a secure and stable regional environment.

The ship, during its initial deployment, carried out joint "Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surveillance" of Mauritius from March 8-26 in close coordination with National Coast Guard of the island nation.

"In keeping with India's national objective of ensuring a secure and stable regional environment to allow unhindered economic and social development, not just in India, but also in the Indian Ocean Region, Indian Naval ship Shardul is on a two-month-long deployment in the South Indian Ocean," the Defence Ministry said in statement.

Post-successful completion of joint EEZ surveillance of Mauritius, the warship entered EEZ of Seychelles on Mar 27.

The coordination meeting with officials from Seychelles Coast Guard and INS Shardul was conducted at Seychelles Coast Guard Headquarters to discuss the modus operandi, extent of surveillance area and communication plan.

The ship set sail from Port Victoria in Seychelles on March 31 for Phase II of EEZ surveillance.

The ministry said the deployment was aimed at showing "presence", deter illegal fishing and drug trafficking.

"The ship carried out extensive patrol in the area (sanitising about 21,000 sq nautical miles) and interrogated merchant and fishing vessels ensuring safe waters for transit of mercantile traffic and safeguarding of EEZ of Seychelles.

The ship will return to India in mid-April.

INS Shardul is a landing ship tank whose primary role is to transport troops, vehicles, armaments and accomplish all objectives of an amphibious operation which primarily includes landing of combat equipment and personnel to an Amphibious Objective Area.

INS Shardul has the capability to launch and recover Marine Commandos through sea as well as by helicopters.

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