Indian Navy to participate in first war games in Atlantic Ocean

August 17th, 2008 - 12:37 pm ICT by IANS  

By Ritu Sharma
New Delhi, Aug 17 (IANS) Underlining its increasing strategic prowess, the Indian Navy will for the first time participate in separate war games with the British and French navies in the Atlantic Ocean. Since World War I, the Atlantic Ocean has been the stage for strategic warfare for navies the world over.

“We will be participating in the naval exercises at the beginning of the next year at the invitation of Britain and France,” a senior naval officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The invitation from the two nations is an opportunity for the India Navy to gain a foothold in the region and work towards interoperability. The exercises will last 15 days.

During World War II, the navies and air forces of the Allies and Germany fought furious battles in the Atlantic Ocean to control the supply routes to Britain. It is estimated that the Allies destroyed nearly 800 U-boats, while at least 2,200 convoys (75,000 merchant ships) crossed the Atlantic, protected by Allied naval forces.

“The Indian Navy is working out the itinerary for the exercises in the Atlantic Ocean. We need to test our sonar and other equipment in different environmental conditions and the exercises would provide the right opportunity for this,” the officer added.

During the exercise all the three components of naval operations - under the sea, on the sea, and in the air - will come into play.

“The Indian Navy would like to deploy all three components during the exercise to gauge their effectiveness,” the officer added.

However, it was not immediately known which warships and other vessels will form the Indian Navy’s flotilla for the exercises. The participation of the Indian Navy’s lone aircraft career INS Viraat is also not certain.

“INS Viraat is currently undergoing a refit and is expected to put to sea by the beginning of next year,” the officer added.

Interestingly INS Viraat had previously served with the Royal Navy as HMS Hermes and was about to be decommissioned in 1982 after a defence review by the British government. However, when the Falklands War broke out, the vessel was made the flagship of the British forces and set sail for the South Atlantic just three days after Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands on March 19, 1982.

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