India-Australia start first naval exercise

Visakhapatnam, Sep 11 (IANS) India and Australia on Friday began their first naval exercise AUSINDEX here to boost ties between the two navies.

AUSINDEX would be a biennial event intended to strengthen maritime cooperation between the nations and further the ability to undertake regional joint and/or combined operations such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, an official statement said.

The exercise, to be held till September 19, will include integrated operations with surface, air and sub-surface forces, planning and the conduct of anti-submarine warfare exercises, helicopter cross deck operations, surface and anti-air firing exercises and seamanship exercises.

“The maritime exercise is a tangible sign that will strengthen defence co-operation between the two countries as envisaged in the Framework for Security Co-operation announced by the Australian and Indian Prime Ministers in 2014,” the statement said.

From Australia, Anzac class frigate, HMAS Arunta, oiler HMAS Sirius and Collins class submarine HMAS Sheean entered the Visakhapatnam port on Friday.

The Indian Navy would be represented by stealth frigate INS Shivalik, guided missile destroyer INS Ranvijay and fleet tanker INS Shakti.

In addition, one Royal Australian Air Force P3C Orion surveillance aircraft and Indian Navy’s P8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft will operate from Chennai during the drill.

Another statement, meanwhile, said the exercise was aimed at strengthening professional interaction, both in harbour and at sea and would be a “start for attaining interoperability between the two navies”.

“Both navies have a mutual interest in promoting peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean and this is a natural progress of our Navy-to-Navy relationship, given our shared maritime security interests,” the statement said.

The exercise will comprise of a harbour phase, a sea phase as well as a debrief phase.

The harbour phase will include briefings and practical demonstrations along with professional interactions. This would progress to a sea phase which would include fleet manoeuvres, gun firings as well as coordinated anti-submarine exercises.

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