Maldives and India signed an agreement on Sunday to develop a Coastguard harbor and dockyard at the Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) naval base.
The agreement was signed by Maldivian Defense Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi and Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Sunday morning.
The agreement was signed under a defense action plan signed in 2016 by then-President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom during a visit to India.
In addition to the harbor and dockyard, India will also support the development of other infrastructure needed for the harbor, support development of communications resources and radar services, and provide training.
Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) states that while no Indian military personnel will be stationed at the base, the development work will be carried out by India.
Speaking to press after the signing ceremony, Vice Chief of Defense Force, Brigadier General Abdul Raheem Abdul Latheef said that the agreement signed on Sunday is for the first phase of the project.
He said that Maldives has been engaged in discussions with multiple countries including India to develop the base since 2013.
Brigadier General Zakariyya Mansoor, too, said that the Coastguard has had the need for a designated harbor and dockyard to repair and dock vessels. He said that having to transport vessels overseas for repair work is proving both costly and time consuming.
Mansoor said that the signing of the agreement marks a historic occasion, but that the UTF base needs more development.
The Coastguard attends to over 700 distress calls and conducts approximately 300 operations on an annual basis. The Coastguard is also involved in countering transnational crimes and conducting medical evacuations.