Regional

India-Sri Lanka naval exercises ends

Sep 23, 2011

-RK Radhakrishnan

The Indian Navy gained from the Sri Lankan experience with low intensity conflict while the Sri Lankan Navy learnt to operate more effectively in a multi-force environment at the conclusion of the biggest ever exercise between the Navies of the two countries.The exercises, which involved 6 Indian state-of-the-art vessels of the Eastern Command, and over 1200 Indian naval personal, and 11 Sri Lankan vessels and almost an equal compliment of personnel, was keenly watched by the international community and the diplomatic corps stationed in Colombo.

The exercises, “SLINEX II,” commenced on September 19 to 24 and aims at enhancing interoperability of the two navies. The Sri Lankan Navy said that the drill is expected to provide the opportunity for the neighbouring navies to rehearse the concept of joint naval operations and enhance own skills in order to gain from each other’s experience.The decision to increase mutual defence cooperation and to hold joint naval exercise was taken during the visit of Defence secretary Pradeep Kumar to Sri Lanka in December 2010.

The first Indo-Sri Lankan naval exercises were held about five years ago. But since the Eelam War IV intensified since 2006, the exercises, which were to be held annually, were put off.The one vessel that generated a lot of interest was the indigenous multi-role frigate with stealth features, INS Shivalik. The vessel commissioned in April 2010, is a product of indigenous design, US engines and a mix of Russian and Indian weaponry. The BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles are also part of its weaponry. The frigate is part of the Eastern Fleet.

The Indian Naval ships taking part are INS Ranvijay, INS Shivalik, INS Gharial, INS Khanjar, INS Cheriyam and INS Coradiv, along with integral helicopters and a Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Rear Admiral HCS Bisht, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, Indian Navy, is commanding the Indian ships participating in the exercise.

Apart from operational interactions, sports fixtures, presentations on topics of mutual interest and demonstration by the Sri Lanka Navy were also being organised. During visits abroad for such exercises, Indian naval ships regularly carry out community service. In line with this practice, the officers and men from the participating Indian ships visited the ‘Anbu Illam’ and ‘Sivananda Thapobanam’ Orphanages in Trincomalee and carried out community service, including painting of dormitories and beds, renewal of electrical wiring, plumbing work and other repair activities. The Indian Navy handed out two months supply of provisions, medicines, fans, bulbs, paint and other essential commodities. They also had a chance to interact with the children at these orphanages.

The Vietnamese Ambassador to Sri Lanka travelled from Colombo to Trincomalee to convey his wishes to the Indian and Sri Lankan Navy personnel, onboard the INS Shivalik on Thursday.

( The Hindu)

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