French carrier in India for joint naval drill

January 6th, 2011 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) The French Navy’s nuclear-propelled aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will participate in a week-long joint exercise with the Indian Navy off Goa from Friday that will see the navy fielding aircraft carrier INS Viraat along with destroyers and a submarine.The bilateral exercise - Varuna 10 - will see destroyers, frigates, tankers and submarines from both sides participating, a navy spokesperson said.

The French Navy will be represented by ships from the French Carrier Strike Group, designated Task Force 473 and mainly based at Toulon, France.

The Task Force includes the 38,000-tonne aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, destroyers FNS Forbin and FNS Tourville, supply ship FNS Meuse and nuclear powered submarine FNS Amethyste.

“Aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle will be carrying its complement of fighter aircraft, Rafale and Super Etendard, airborne early warning aircraft E2C Hawkeye and integral helicopters,” the spokesperson said.

This will be the second time that Charles de Gaulle — the flagship of the French Navy and the first and only nuclear-powered carrier built outside of the US Navy — will be participating in an exercise with the Indian Navy. The warship was in India last in 2006.

Besides aircraft carrier INS Viraat, the Indian Navy will be represented by two indigenous frigates INS Godavari and INS Ganga and Shishumar class submarine INS Shalki.

Sea Harrier fighters, fixed and rotary wing aircraft are also scheduled to participate in the exercise.

The harbour phase is scheduled from Jan 7 to 10 and the sea phase will be conducted in the Arabian sea from Jan 11 to 14.

The scope of Varuna includes the entire gamut of maritime operations ranging from aircraft carrier operations, anti-submarine warfare operations and maritime interdiction operations exercises.

The Indian and the French navies have been conducting bilateral naval exercises since May 1993.

However, it was from 2001 that bilateral exercise was been called ‘Varuna’.

Till date, eleven such exercises have been conducted. The last exercise was conducted off Brest in France June 27-July 4 last year to coincide with the overseas deployment of Indian Navy ships to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

The bilateral exercise aims at deriving mutual benefit from the experiences of the two navies.

“The understanding and confidence gained through such exercises has helped cooperation in anti-piracy operations and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. This exercise will further strengthen the cooperation and coordination,” the spokesperson said.

Most of the world’s energy carriers transit through the Indian Ocean region. Due to increasing piracy and maritime terrorism, navies of several countries have been cooperating with each other to strengthen maritime security in the region.

“Naval cooperation between India and the France epitomises this and is in the long term interests of both countries. Both navies have, over the years, undertaken bilateral activities such as exercises at sea, training visits and courses, information exchange, and technical cooperation. The navies have significant convergence of interests, especially in maritime security in this region,” said the navy spokesperson.

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