India, Singapore naval exercises build on synergies

April 1st, 2009 - 6:05 pm ICT by IANS  

By Nirmala George
Singapore, April 1 (IANS) Naval warships from India and Singapore prepared to end week-long exercises Thursday in the Andaman Sea aimed at ensuring maritime and coastal security and combating piracy on the high seas.

Four naval ships, including two destroyers from the Indian Navy, and a fleet of vessels of the Singapore navy took part in the annual exercises that involve anti-submarine, anti-air and anti-surface manoeuvres in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

The exercises have gained in significance as the safety of commercial shipping routes in the region and port security have become top priorities for both India and Singapore.

The Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise, or SIMBEX, is scheduled to end Thursday in the South China Sea.

First held in 1994, the exercises, which began with Anti-Submarine Warfare operations, have over the years expanded in scope and complexity, reflecting the growing strength and capabilities of the two sides and their inter-operability skills.

In the 16 years the two countries have conducted SIMBEX, their individual and joint naval capabilities have expanded manifold.

The advanced naval warfare exercises demand a high level of coordination from the navies, enabling them to carry out complex missions in the high seas building on each other’s strengths without compromising each other’s security, Indian officials said Wednesday.

The Singapore navy’s impressive state-of-the-art Formidable Class frigates, part of city-state’s recently-operationalised frigate squadron comprising six stealth frigates, and its Endurance class landing platform dock (LPD) ships will be an attraction for visiting Indian navy hands.

After the exercises, the Indian ships will separately visit Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and the Vietnamese port of Hai Phong. Later, two ships will head to the northern Chinese port city of Qingdao to participate in China’s first International Fleet Review.

The fleet review, being held April 20-24, is to mark the 60th anniversary of the modern Chinese navy.

At the end of their South East and East Asian deployment, two of the ships will return to Singapore to take part in the maritime defence show IMDEX Asia 2009 which begins here May 12.

The two Indian warships will be joined by an Indian Coast Guard vessel. More than 20 warships from 15 countries and around 5,500 trade visitors are expected to join the maritime jamboree.

The trade event will coincide with the first International Maritime Security Conference which will bring the top brass of around 20 navies and coast guard fleets to Singapore.

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