On Sunday, the US Navy rescue and salvage ship USNS Salvor arrived at Larsen & Toubro shipyard in Kattupalli, near Chennai, marking the third ship to come to India for repairs. This development is part of the growing partnership between the United States and India, as the US seeks to establish India as a regional hub for its ship repairs. The arrival of USNS Salvor follows the signing of a five-year Master Ship Repair Agreement (MSRA) between the US Navy and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) on Monday.
The MSRA is considered a significant milestone in the expanding US-India partnership. It is a direct result of the 2022 US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue and demonstrates the US commitment to utilizing L&T’s shipyard in Kattupalli for regular repairs. Judith Ravin, the US Consul-General in Chennai, expressed her belief that this agreement will strengthen the strategic partnership between the two nations and contribute to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
These discussions took place against the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the US. Official sources indicate that India has invited the US to assess additional shipyards, including Mazagon Dock Limited and Goa Shipyard. The Pipavav shipyard, owned by the Anil Ambani Group, may also be acquired and revitalized by another company, which could be considered due to its modern infrastructure.
In 2017, Reliance Defence and Engineering Limited (RDEL) signed an MSRA with the US Navy after the Pipavav Shipyard was approved to perform repairs and alterations for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet vessels operating in the region. However, the shipyard faced financial difficulties and eventually went bankrupt. Defence officials believe that it could be revived in the future.
The joint statement issued after talks between Prime Minister Modi and US President Joe Biden acknowledged India’s emergence as a hub for maintenance and repair for forward-deployed US Navy assets. The statement highlighted the conclusion of the MSRA with Indian shipyards, which will expedite the contracting process for mid-voyage and emergent repairs, aligning with the Defence Industrial Roadmap.
These agreements will allow mid-voyage US Navy ships to undergo service and repair at Indian shipyards, providing cost-effective and time-saving sustainment for US military operations across multiple theaters. The US aims to make India a logistics hub for the US and other partners in the region, as stated by Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder.
The Kattupalli Shipyard of Larsen & Toubro is equipped with modern facilities for shipbuilding, ship repair, and refits, including a heavy ship-lift, multiple dry berths, and wet berths that enable concurrent construction of new ships and repairs.