Last week the first of 20 Soviet salvage vessels arrived at the Bangladesh port of Chittagong to begin removing scores of ships sunk there during the recent Indo-Pakistan war.
GV Chittagong Harbour (3 shots)
GV Sunken ships in harbour (3 shots)
GV soviet destroyers anchored in port of Mombasa
LV soviet sailors on deck (2 shots)
MV Sailors shore-bound in launch
GV PAN Port Louis harbour to Soviet warship
GV PAN superstructure to GV ship at dock (2 shots)
AERIAL VIEW British helicopter watching Soviet warship off Singapore
AERIAL VIEW Soviet warships passing Singapore (2 shots)
GV Overlooking Aden harbour
LV Soviet destroyer in harbour
MV and GV Official South Yemeni party aboard soviet destroyer (2 shots)
GV Missile Turret ZOOM OUT TO GV destroyer
GV Soviet Admiral out of aircraft and greeted by Soviet Ambassador and indian Naval Commander Nanda
SCU Admiral Gorshkov
SV & LV Admiral Gorohko inspecting Indian Naval guard of honour (2 shots)
Initials CS/1740 OS/1810
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Background: Last week the first of 20 Soviet salvage vessels arrived at the Bangladesh port of Chittagong to begin removing scores of ships sunk there during the recent Indo-Pakistan war.
The arrival of the salvage fleet is in keeping with Soviet support for India during the conflict with Pakistan, and is in line with last year signing of the Indo-Soviet Treaty.
In a wider scope, however, the salvage operation is symbolic of the soviet Union's ever increasing naval presence in the Indian Ocean. The increase in Soviet sea power there follows Britain's decision to curtail its military position East of Suez, and is in tune with the Russian policy of creating a new naval balance of power vis-a-vis the United States.
Since 1968, soviet warships have been visiting more and more Indian Ocean ports, including those in Mauritius, Kenya, South Yemen, and India.
For the most part, these visits are mainly aimed at showing the "red flag". But there are signs that the soviets are also interested in establishing drydock facilities for their warships which arrive in the Indian Ocean from the far away Soviet port of Vladivostock in the northwest Pacific. Such facilities have been given to the Russian fleet on the island of Mauritius. In South yemen, the government has denied recent reports that secret Soviet submarine bases exist there.
The 1971 edition of "Jane's Fighting Ships" noted that Britain once had a chain of warships stretching from the English Channel to China. Then it went on to say that since Britain had unshackled that chain, the Soviet Union has been busy picking up the links. On the other hand, some Western defence experts point out that the Indian ocean is very big and the number of Soviet ships visiting the area is still relatively small
In the meantime, the continuing presence of soviet warships in the Indian Ocean coupled by other events, such as this weeks arrival in New Delhi of the soviet Union's top naval officer, Admiral Sergei Gorshkov should keep the attention of Western naval strategists closely focused on future developments in the area.
SYNOPSIS: New that the first of 20 Soviet salvage vessels arrived at the Bangladesh port of Chittagong to remove ships sunk there during the December Indo-Pakistan war points not only to Moscow's promptness in aiding the newly independent country, but is also symbolic of the recent build-up Soviet sea power in the Indian ocean. Like previous build-ups in the Mediterranean and Middle East, the soviet presence in the area has followed the pattern of first showing the flag.
A Soviet naval squadron anchored in Monbasa, Kenya in 1968 is typical of Russian eagerness to demonstrate that another global naval power besides the United States is roaming the high seas.
A year later, the "red flag" was waving at Port Louis on the island of Mauritius. Since then, the Soviet Union has worked out a deal with the government of Mauritius which allows soviet warships the privilege of using the island's drydock facilities.
In 1971, soviet warships were sighted off the coast of Singapore bound for the Indian Ocean. Watched closely by a British Navy helicopter, the incident occurred as British Prime Minister Edward Heath wash speaking at a Commonwealth conference in Singapore. In his address, he warned that the Soviet naval build-up in Indian Ocean posed a threat to the area's security. In fact, since Britain has decided to curb its own military position East of suez, the Russians have been moving into the resulting power vacuum. Presently, ships of the Soviet Pacific fleet range all the way from the Russian port of Valdivostock in the northwest Pacific, through the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Aden.
Two months ago in Aden Harbour, the flag most commonly seen was that of the Soviet Union. Mr. Salem Rabyee Ali, Chairman of the Southern Yemeni Presidency Council, paid a visit to one f the Soviet destroyers moored in the harbour. Although an increasing number of warships have called at Aden, the government has denied reports that secret Soviet submarine bases have been built there And so far, Southern Yemen has refused Moscow's offer to finance the construction of new drydock facilities to service Soviet warships
One recent development, which could prove significant in the soviet Navy' arrival in the area, was the visit to New Delhi of Admiral Sergei Gorshkov, the Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy. During his 10-day stay, the Admiral, who also holds the rank of Deputy Defence Minister, will visit the key Indian naval base at Viskhapatnam....a high security area seldom seen by foreign visitors. Admiral Gorshkov is the man most responsible for Russia's arrival as a sea power to be reckoned with.