No curbs on India’s deployment of troop carrier: US official

March 28th, 2008 - 10:05 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) There are no restrictions on the manner the Indian Navy deploys a troop carrier it has purchased from the US, a top American official said Friday. “There is no unique language associated” in the contract for the purchase of the USS Trenton, now renamed the INS Jalashva, US Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter told reporters here.

“We do not limit the use of a ship by a sovereign nation in support of its national defence objectives,” Winter added.

His remarks came in response to objections raised by India’s Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that “restrictive clauses” in the $50.63 million deal for the purchase of the ship “raise doubts about the real advantages” of the acquisition.

There were “restrictions on the offensive deployment of the ship” the CAG maintained in his report tabled in parliament earlier this month.

The CAG also objected to the permission granted to the US government “to conduct an inspection and inventory of all articles transferred under the end-use monitoring clause of the LOA (letter of offer and acceptance)”.

The CAG had slammed the purchase per se, saying that the “ageing” ship was acquired “without physical assessment” of the vessel, leading to the cost of its refurbishment rising by nearly $2 million.

The Jalashva had joined the Indian Navy fleet late last year. And accident on board, while participating in an exercise in the Bay of Bengal, soon after had claimed the lives of five sailors.

On his part, Winter maintained the US could learn from its experience in refurbishing the Jalashva.

“There are many options on the table. We are examining if we can do a similar life extension (on the nine troop carriers similar to the Jalashva the US Navy currently operates),” he maintained.

On Friday, Winter met Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta and other civilian and defence officials. On Thursday, he had visited the premier Mumbai-based Western Naval Command and the Mazagon Dockyard Limited where the first of six French-designed Scorpene submarines are being constructed.

“Both our countries have significant maritime and security interest and there is much we can share on this. We’ve had a good set of sessions on furthering this,” Winter said.

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