India and Indonesia Agree Naval Cooperation at Sabang

Modi and Widodo
Modi and Widodo

By The Maritime Executive 05-30-2018 07:30:45

Indonesia and India have pledged to boost defense and maritime cooperation, with plans to develop a strategic Indonesian naval port in the Indian Ocean at Sabang. 

The port, located on the tip of Sumatra island and at the mouth of the Malacca Strait , is 40 meters (131 feet) deep and could be developed to accommodate both commercial vessels and submarines. Sabang is approximately 175 kilometers southeast of the southernmost island in India’s Andaman and Nicobar Island chain.

India’s interest in Sabang is not new, with the two countries discussing development of the port during Modi’s first year in office. The port would grant the Indian Navy a well-positioned base for supporting operations in the eastern Indian Ocean and the Malacca Strait.

The agreement was reached when Indonesian President Joko Widodo met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an official meeting in Indonesia on Wednesday. The leaders agreed to strengthen existing naval cooperation including the bilateral Coordinated Patrols initiated in 2002 between the Navies of the two countries and commencement of regular bilateral naval exercises. They also agreed to enhance information sharing related to maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region.

India has a coastline of 7,500 kilometers, more than 1,380 islands and more than two million square kilometers of Exclusive Economic Zone, and Indonesia, the largest archipelago-nation in the world, has a coastline of 108,000 kilometers, 17,504 islands and features and 6,400,000 square kilometers of Exclusive Economic Zone.

The leaders also aim to enhance cooperation by: 

•  Encouraging greater flow of goods, services, investment and technology between the two countries.

•  Taking necessary steps to enhance connectivity between Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India and Provinces in Sumatera Island of Indonesia to promote trade and tourism.

•  Developing maritime infrastructure and promoting maritime industries, especially in fisheries and shipbuilding.

•  Improving geodetic data-sharing, methods and infrastructure and further developing early warning systems in the region for forecasting and communicating disaster-related risks and hazards.

Modi flies to Malaysia on Thursday to meet recently elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad before flying to Singapore to address the Shangri-La Dialogue.