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India Bolsters Naval Might at Andaman, Nicobar Islands

As the Narendra Modi government reinforces its involvement in a range of strategically located port facilities around the Indian Ocean region, augmenting the strength of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has become crucial.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian Navy has commissioned its fourth Mk IV landing craft, namely IN LCU L54, at Port Blair as part of New Delhi's plan to improve its military capabilities at India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands close to the Strait of Malacca — the world's busiest shipping route.

This is the second 830-ton amphibious vessel commissioned at the country's only tri-service command. The ship was domestically designed and built by the state-owned Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE).

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The ship has a complement of five officers, 41 sailors and is capable of carrying a total of 160 troops. The ship is capable of transporting various kinds of combat equipment such as the T72 main battle tank, armored vehicles and equipment.

 "These ships, based at the Andaman and Nicobar Command, can be deployed for multirole activities like beaching operations, search and rescue, disaster relief operations, supply and replenishment and evacuation from distant islands," the Indian Navy said in a statement on Friday.

The remaining four ships of the same class are in advanced stages of construction at a government-owned shipyard in Kolkata and are scheduled to be inducted over the next year and a half, according to the Indian Navy.

READ MORE: India to Base Its Fighter Jets on Andaman & Nicobar Islands in Bengal Bay

The Defense Ministry and GSRE had signed a $310 million contract for eight MK IV class ships in September 2011. The first LCU of this class was commissioned in March 2017. For the last two years, India has massively enhanced its naval capabilities at the Andaman and Nicobar Command. Apart from the three LCUs, a floating dock for warships and one P-8i (submarine killer aircraft) have also been deployed by the command to keep an eye on China's naval movement.

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