From Trenton to Seahorse: Jalashva

This is an important development.

The U.S. and India, long at loggerheads while the Soviet Union served as a sponsor for the statist socialist Indian government after England gave up its empire, have finally realized that they are natural allies. They are both mostly capitalist democracies with large, fractious, mostly tolerant populations. They both export their popular culture to mass acclaim, whether from Hollywood or Bollywood. They both are bitterly opposed by Moslem countries, and by China. The U.S. is the current big cheese in the world economy. India will be one of the top two or three economies in the world, if not the largest, by the end of the century. They are natural partners.

After the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2005 the Indian Navy felt the acute lack of large, amphibious ships in its fleet.

Within hours of the tsunami that struck the subcontinent’s eastern flank last year, the Indian Navy commandeered and dispatched nearly a fourth of its fleet for relief and rescue. Thirty-eight ships, big and small, raced to help the tens of thousands in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.

But when the ships reached there, they found piers and jettys wrecked. Although the Navy overcame myriad obstacles to bring off a stupendous relief act, one which was universally hailed, “It was also a moment when we felt an acute need for an amphibious landing ship,”said a commander. (source)

On Wednesday, the amphibious loading dock USS Trenton was formally transferred from the U.S. Navy to the Indian Navy. Its new name is Jalashva, which means Seahorse in Sanskrit. It is undergoing a few months of additional refitting and crew training in Norfolk and will then sail to India to join the Indian fleet. The Jalashva is the second largest ship, and the first American ship, in the Indian fleet.

May the seas be smooth before you, Jalashva.

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