The year 2018 saw an enhanced level of Navy-to-Navy engagements of India with Kenya, Tanzania and Sychelles.
In June 2018, the Defence Minister of Kenya, Raychelle Omamo paid a historic visit to India, the first ever official visit by a serving Kenyan Defence Minister to India in recent decades. During the visit, India and Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Sharing White Shipping Information, making Kenya the first African country to sign this MoU with India. The MoU enables the two countries to formally share data on unclassified shipping in order to create greater maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean Region. Requisite sharing of information in this regard has been operationalized subsequently and POCs established on both sides for direct co-ordination. During the visit, the Kenyan Defence Minister also expressed interest in enhancing Nava-to-Navy engagement between the two countries to enable better maritime security in the region. As a follow-up, INS Tarkash visited Mombasa from July 4-6, 2018 and held a number of professional interactions with Kenya Navy. On departure from Mombasa, Tarkash undertook a PASSEX with Kenya Navy's frontline ship Jasiri at sea on July 6, 2018. This was the second successive PASSEX between the two Navies since the maiden PASSEX held in September 2016. In September 2018, Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command paid an official visit to Kenya, to coincide with the OSD of two Western Fleet ships, Tarkash and Kolkata, to Mombasa. This was the first ever official visit by a FOC-in-C (West) to Kenya since 2002. During the visit, the FOC-in-C held bi-lateral meetings with the Kenyan Defence Minister and Chief of Defence Forces and other senior Kenya officials on matters of mutual interest and bilateral defence co-operation. The FOC-in-C also delivered a Guest Lecture at NDC, Nairobi. As part of their goodwill visit to Mombasa at the same time, Kolkata and Tarkash undertook a number of harbour professional activities with Kenya Navy during the visit, besides undertaking charity work at a local charitable institute and social engagements for Indian diaspora and expatriates. Kenya Navy continued their participation in events hosted by the Indian Navy such as the IONS HADR Working Group meeting in Visakhapatnam in September 2018 and the International Goa Maritime Symposium at Naval War College in October 2018.
Vice Admiral AR Karve, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command paid an official visit to Tanzania in March 2018 to coincide with the OSD of the 1st Training Squadron to Dar-e-Salaam. During the visit he held discussions with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence and senior TPDF officials on various issues of mutual interest and bilateral defence co-operation. He later visited the TPDF Command and Staff College in Arusha, where a senior Indian military team is on a two-year deputation to undertale a comprehensive revision of the College syllabus. Meanwhile, ships of the 1st Training Squadron, namely Tir, Sujata and ICGS Sarathi undertook a number of harbour professional engagements with TPDF Navy during their good will visit at the same time. A reception was also hosted on board the ships which was attended by all senior TPDF officials, Service Chiefs and heads of TPDF institutions.
The close defence co-operation relations between India and Seychelles saw significant developments in 2018. During the State Visit of the Seychelles President to India in June 2018, India handed over the second Dornier aircraft to Seychelles. Prime Minister Modi had announced the gifting of this aircraft, manufactured by M/s HAL, to Seychelles to enhance its maritime surveillance capability and patrol the vast EEZ, during his State Visit to Seychelles in March 2014. Earlier in April 2018, Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command paid an official visit to Seychelles, to coincide with the OSD of two Western Fleet ships, Mumbai and Trikand. During the visit, he met with the Vice President of Seychelles and Chief of Defence Forces and discussed issues of mutual interest and bilateral defence co-operation. The two ships undertook various professional engagements with the Seychelles Coast Guard to enhance the mutual interoperability.