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Indian naval ship on UK goodwill visit at centre of Independence Day celebrations

INS Tabar docked to hold the 75th Independence Day celebrations aboard during its goodwill tour, at Portsmouth, Sunday, Aug 15, 2021. A PTI Photo

LONDON (PTI):  An Indian Navy frontline frigate docked at Portsmouth harbour on England's south coast as part of a goodwill visit was at the heart of Sunday's Independence Day celebrations in the UK.

INS Tabar, which arrived at Portsmouth on Thursday to undertake the annual bilateral exercise Konkan between the Indian Navy and Britain's Royal Navy, hosted a special flag hoisting ceremony with its approximately 300 crew on board under the command of Captain Mahesh Mangipudi.

A small group of special guests led by Indian High Commissioner Gaitri Issar Kumar were invited for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of India's Independence, held in a COVID-secure setting.

The Indian Navy and Royal Navy share unique historical ties. They have been conducting the bilateral naval exercise Konkan every year since 2004, said the High Commissioner.

We have been looking forward to the goodwill visit of INS Tabar, a frontline frigate of the Indian Navy. Its joint exercises, along with HMS Westminster of the Royal Navy are aimed at enhancing interoperability, synergy and cooperation between both navies, she said.

The warship, part of the Western Fleet of the Indian Navy, set sail from Mumbai in early June and has conducted exercises in Russia and Italy en route to the UK and is expected back in India by next month.

This year's edition of Exercise Konkan commenced when the Indian Navy and Royal Navy met for exercises at sea before the harbour phase of the exercise, during which several professional interactions, sharing of best practices and harbour drills were also conducted.

The exercise will continue at sea on Monday, when INS Tabar will meet up with a Royal Navy frigate along with shore-based aircraft for air defence exercises, anti-submarine procedures, replenishment at sea activities, and communication drills at sea.

A highlight of the exercise will be the cross-deck helicopter operations, wherein helicopters will carry out landing procedures.

I have no doubt that their visit to Portsmouth, hosted by the Royal Navy, will contribute to further strengthening the friendly contacts and cooperation between both navies, added the High Commissioner, who also hosted an Independence Day reception at the High Commission of India in London.

At another COVID-secure event at India House, the envoy unfurled the tricolour and the singing of the national anthem was followed by her reading from the speech of the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind.

I would like to dedicate today's celebration to our forces on the borders, in honour of their sacrifices for mother India, said Kumar.

The concluded with a cultural programme and formal launch of a Poster and Painting Competition for the Indian diaspora in the UK.

The online competition, by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), is part of the 75th anniversary celebrations of Independence Day "Amrit Mahotsav" and invites Indians around the world to depict their artistic expression on the theme of 'My Idea of India'.

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