The Indian Navy has been having drills from not only the countries in the IOR but also with the ASEAN nations and several countries from the African continent join as observers.
Due to the global pandemic of coronavirus, a lot of such drills had been pushed back due to stringent protocols in place. (File image)
The Indian Ocean Region is seeing a sudden spurt in Bi-lateral, Tri-lateral and Multi-lateral exercises amongst the navies of likeminded Democracies and other littorals in the region. However, “At the very outset, one thing must be brought out very clearly that these exercises are not any knee-jerk reflex reactions to the expansionist overtures of the Chinese PLA Navy, but a result of decades of diplomatic relations along with neutral and progressive policies of India as a country and Indian Navy (IN) as a professional force,” explains the former spokesperson of the Indian Navy Capt DK Sharma to Financial Express Online.
According to him, “response of Indian Navy post the Boxing Day Tsunami 2004 brought her to the fore and thereafter it’s been seen that it’s de facto the first responder should there be a crisis/HADR emergency in IOR.”
Due to the global pandemic of coronavirus, a lot of such drills had been pushed back due to stringent protocols in place.
“The navies graduate to exercising with each other when there is a common cause and there is a possibility to operate together in times if needed. The confidence-building though happens in the background with staff talks and visits by top hierarchy,” Capt Sharma says.
Indian Navy has excellent relations with all the Navies of the world and especially, with those in the IOR and has institutionalised operating procedures with them ranging from maritime boundaries patrolling to bilateral/trilateral/multilateral exercises of varying complexities. The Indian Navy has been having drills from not only the countries in the IOR but also with the ASEAN nations and several countries from the African continent join as observers.
“Keeping in view the fast-changing geo-strategic environment with the high handedness of PLA Navy in the South China Sea and other parts of the world, it is but obvious that the world has taken note of it. Also, there needs to be a mechanism to send a clear message that the evolved democracies of the world who abide by the norms laid out by UNCLOS would not be a meek spectator should the push comes to shove,” he opines.
In conclusion, Capt Sharma says, “Exercising amongst Navies is a very positive sign of a healthy relationship between participating nations and gives a message of peace, stability and ease of doing business. The bottom line is to exchange best practices, learn from each other, get exposed to each other’s assets and Operational procedures and strengthen each other.”
Ongoing Naval Drills
On Monday (November 23, 2020) the 27th edition of India – Singapore Bilateral Maritime Exercise SIMBEX-20 has taken off in the Andaman Sea. The aim of the bilateral drill between the navies of India and the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) is going be focusing on enhancing mutual inter-operability and also to imbibe best practices from each other.
The SIMBEX series is being conducted annually since 1994, and over the years the scope and complexity of these drills have increased and now include a wide spectrum of maritime operations.
The composition of the SIMBEX 2020
From the Indian Navy destroyer Rana with Chetak helicopter, the indigenously built corvettes Kamorta and Karmuk along with IN submarine Sindhuraj and P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft are taking part.
And the RSN will be represented by the ‘Formidable’ Class frigates ‘Intrepid’ and ‘Steadfast’. There is ‘Endurance’ Class Landing Ship Tank ‘Endeavour’ and S70B helicopter and in the exercise.
And over the next couple of days, the two friendly navies will be carrying out intensive joint operations at sea including advanced surface, anti-air warfare and anti-submarine warfare drills and also the weapon firings.
Last week from Nov 21-22, the IN’s indigenously built ASW corvette Kamorta and missile corvette Karmuk had participated in the 2nd edition SITMEX-20 — India, Singapore and Thailand Trilateral Maritime Exercise in the Andaman Sea. This year the SITMEX-20 is being hosted by the RSN.
Last year Indian Navy had hosted the first edition of SITMEX, which was conducted off Port Blair. This series of exercises are conducted for further enhancing mutual interoperability between the three navies including Indian Navy, RSN and Royal Thai Navy (RTN).
While RSN was represented by the ‘Formidable’ Class frigate ‘Intrepid’ and ‘Endurance’ Class Landing Ship Tank ‘Endeavour’, the RTN had sent the ‘Chao Phraya’ Class frigate ‘Kraburi’ in the exercise.