Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chinese and Indian Navies Square Off on High Seas

A little over a fortnight before China conducted sea trials for its first aircraft carrier, an Indian naval ship slipped into the South China Sea.

INS Airavat, an amphibious assault vessel designed to launch troops on enemy beaches, was on a show-the-flag mission in July when it was challenged as it sailed from Vietnam's Nha Trang port near the deep-water harbour of Cam Ranh Bay.

A caller identifying himself as an official of the Chinese navy warned the ship on an open radio channel that it was entering Chinese waters as it steamed toward the Vietnamese port of Haiphong, the Indian foreign ministry said.

Nothing happened, the ship sailed on, and both India and China have since played down the incident, with New Delhi saying the vessel was well within international waters in the South China Sea and that there was no confrontation.

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