Australian Navy frigate’s Chennai visit part of Canberra’s ‘East Asian deployment’

On May 10, HMAS Toowoomba, a frigate of the Royal Australian Navy, docked at Chennai’s port, where it will remain this week as it prepares to continue on its broader mission in the Indian Ocean Region and West Asia. This mission involves counter-terrorism, anti-piracy and broader maritime security imperatives. On the side-lines of an engagement in Chennai, Commander Mitchell Livingstone, who is leading this engagement, spoke to Narayan Lakshman about the surge in military cooperation between New Delhi and Canberra, and why that matters for broader bilateral ties and regional maritime security. They were joined by Australian Defence Advisor Simon Bateman. Edited transcript:

The Toowoomba is in Chennai as part of Operation Manitou. Could you explain the broad contours of the mission?

Mitchell Livingstone: We’re calling this an East Asian deployment, which is basically to improve interoperability with the Indian navy, confirm our combined efforts toward maritime security. We all have a vested interest in the Indian Ocean. It’s a [considerable] distance from India to Australia, but we do share the same waterway, so we’ve all got a vested interest in ensuring that it’s prosperous and secure. As an island nation we’re are highly dependent – our only means [of access] is via the air or the sea. We need to engage regionally to ensure that we benefit and [India] benefits from a secure waterway. Read More

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