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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
India opens huge new naval base
Indian warships
The facility will eventually be able to berth 42 ships
India has opened a new naval base on its Arabian Sea coast which it says will become one of the largest in Asia.

The base at Karwar in south-western Karnataka state will have space for 42 warships and deep water for an aircraft carrier and nuclear submarines to dock.

It fulfils a long-standing demand by India's navy for an exclusive facility.

Until now Indian naval bases have had to share space with commercial ports, leaving them congested and vulnerable to attacks.

The BBC's Sunil Raman in Bangalore says the INS Kadamba base covers 4,400 acres and will become the biggest operational base in India.


"This base is of strategic importance," Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at the new base in Karwar.

"With the commissioning of this base, the navy will fulfil the responsibility of defending the country and safeguarding its exclusive economic zone."

The base has been commissioned 19 years after its foundation stone was laid, mainly because of delays due to funding problems.

But in 2000, the Indian government decided to make it a priority and channelled huge funds towards the project.

Presently, the base can berth around 11 ships but the number will rise to 42 in the next couple of years.

A ship-lifting system built by European engine maker Rolls Royce at a cost of $35m will become operational by the end of this year.

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