THE INS Airavat, an amphibious warfare vessel of the Indian navy, made a port visit to Sihanoukville on Tuesday. This is the fifth visit by an Indian warship to Cambodia in as many years.
Part of the Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet based in Vishakapatnam, the INS Airavat is capable of carrying 500 marines and 10 tanks. The ship is also equipped for humanitarian missions, and includes a fully-functioning hospital on board.
The ship began sea trials in 2008 and was commissioned on May 19, 2009, making it the third such vessel of the Shardul Class amphibious troop carriers. Constructed at a shipyard in Kolkata, the INS Airavat can operate at sea for 45 days and is named after the fabled albino, four-tusked elephant of Hindu mythology which was known as the mount for the Hindu god Indra, considered King of the Devas.
The ship carries two WM-18 rocket launchers, four CRN-91 AA 30mm guns, with a helicopter pad on the stern for its Westland Sea King helicopter.
Indian Commander Nitin Kapoor welcomed on board Cambodian Vice Admiral and Commander of the Cambodian Navy Tea Vinh and a coterie of senior Cambodian naval officers. Kapoor presented Vinh with a replica of the mythological elephant Airavat.
Indian Ambassador to Cambodia Rajesh Sachdeva said in his official remarks that Lord Indra was responsible for providing the rains and that the afternoon shower preceding the event was a blessing. He noted that the mythical elephant Airavat was visible at most of the Hindu temples constructed in Cambodia.
Indian navy officers were to visit a Cambodian orphanage yesterday as a way of assisting those in need in the Kingdom. The INS Airavat visited Brunei before docking in Sihanoukville. The ship will be making other port visits in Southeast Asia before returning to home port in India.