In February 2021, New Delhi and Male inked a pact for the development and maintenance of a strategic naval facility in the Maldives. Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid on Monday praised India’s contribution to the construction of a coast guard base, saying that it will boost the Indian Ocean archipelago’s “maritime security”.
“The Maldives, being a large ocean state, with our borders very porous, we need effective surveillance and maritime operations, an effective Coast Guard. We do not have a proper hub to do the required maintenance of our boats. Every time, there needs to be maintenance or repair work, [the boat] has to be either taken to Sri Lanka or India,” Shahid told reporters in the context of the development of the Navy facility in the harbor at Uthuru Thila Falhu.
Defending his government’s frequent criticism of deepening defense ties with India, the minister stated that such cooperation with “like-minded countries” was necessary to “prevent major catastrophes“.
The key Navy base in Uthuru Thila Falhu has been developed with the help of a $50-million line of credit from India, which was announced in 2021.
The Coast Guard serves as the Naval wing of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), as the Maldives doesn’t have a Navy to patrol its extensive maritime borders.
In addition to building the Coast Guard base, India has also provided maritime surveillance aircraft and patrol boats to strengthen Male’s maritime capabilities.