New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) To boost mutual confidence and cooperation, a bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian Navy and the Russian Navy got underway in the Bay of Bengal on Friday. The exercise is taking place amid dispute over border issues between the two countries.
“The exercise is aimed at enhancing interoperability, improving understanding and imbibing best practices between the two navies,” Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal told IANS.
He also said the exercise will help further boost mutual confidence and cooperation between the two Navies and would reinforce the long-standing bond of friendship between the two countries.
Madhwal said the exercise would involve surface and anti-aircraft drills, firing exercises, helicopter operations and seamanship evolutions.
The exercise is known as Indra Navy which is into its 11th edition. It is a biennial bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian Navy and the Russian Navy.
“Initiated in 2003, the exercise epitomises the long-term strategic relationship between the two navies,” Commander Madhwal said.
While the exercise is being undertaken in the Bay of Bengal, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is on a visit to Moscow on the invitation of Defence Minister of the Russian Federation, General Sergei Shoigu, to discuss bilateral cooperation and issues of mutual interest and commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II.
This exercise has matured over the years with increase in scope, complexity of operations and level of participation.
The primary aim of the exercise is to further consolidate the inter-operability built up by the two Navies over the years and also to enhance understanding and procedures for multi-faceted maritime operations.
The scope of this edition includes wide-ranging and diverse activities across the spectrum of maritime operations.
“Due to restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, INDRA NAVY-20 would be undertaken in a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ format,” Madhwal said.
The Indian Navy is represented by guided missile destroyer Ranvijay, indigenous frigate Sahyadri and fleet tanker Shakti, along with their integral helicopters. Sahyadri has been presently redeployed to provide assistance to MT New Diamond, which has caught fire off the coast of Sri Lanka.
The Russian Federation Navy is represented by destroyer Admiral Vinogradov, destroyer Admiral Tributs and fleet tanker Boris Butoma of the Pacific Fleet, based at Vladivostok.
The last edition of the exercise was conducted off Visakhapatnam in December 2018.