India, Singapore navies begin South China Sea mega games
Navies of India and Singapore on Thursday began a seven-day-long mega maritime exercise in the South China Sea which has been witnessing a growing Chinese assertiveness.
Four warships of the Indian Navy and long range anti- submarine warfare aircraft P-8l are participating in the SIMBEX (Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise), which is aimed at increasing interoperability between the two navies.
A diverse range of operational activities at sea have been planned during the course of the exercise.
"The thrust of exercises at sea this year would be on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), integrated operations with surface, air and sub-surface forces, air defence and surface encounter exercises," Navy Spokesperson Capt D K Sharma said.
A number of warships of Singapore Navy are participating in the exercise along with maritime patrol aircraft Fokker F50 and F-16 aircraft.
Held since 1994, it is the 24th edition of the annual exercise between the two countries.
The Indian warship building industry enjoys a premium position in the world, having built every type of ships, aircraft carriers and submarines, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba has said.
"All the 41 ships and submarines currently on order are being built in India by Indian yards," Lanba, who is here for an introductory visit from May 14 to 18, said at a reception held on Wednesday on board the Indian naval ships -- Sahyadri and Kamorta -- both of which built in India.
The Indian warship building industry today enjoys a premium position among maritime nations of the world, having built every type of platforms, aircraft carriers to submarines, he said.
"Today the Indian navy pride itself as one of the few navies of the world which may be called a builders' navy in the true sense," Lanba said.
The navy chief underlined the importance of indigenisation in building the naval assets in India and said it is the surest way for strategic autonomy.
He joined the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) 50-year celebration and the International Maritime Review (IMR).
There are 28 naval ships from 20 countries with their naval chiefs in Singapore for four days of gathering for IMR and RSN celebrations at the Changi Naval Base.
"The splendid sight of majestic warships with happy men and women manning them is indeed heartening and inspiring. I am sure this momentous of occasion brings our oneness, will propel our navies and forces to come together in the global quest to ensure safe and secure seas," Lanba said.
The Indian navy remains committed and will stand for security and growth for all in the region, he said.
"As the maritime neighbours, both the navies (India and Singapore) have our task cut out and with such a high-level of conversion of national interests, it is natural that our navy to navy relationship have flourished.
"Singapore is a valuable friend located just across the bay. The Indian navy therefore deeply values and cherishes its association with RSN," Lanba said as he congratulated RSN for its 50 years of service.
The IMR not only showcased the might of the Singapore Navy but also brought together navies from across the globe, "signifying our common desire to use the sea to promote cooperation and friendship so to develop partnership for the secure maritime future".
Navies conduct fleet reviews to symbolise their loyalty and allegiance to the nation, as well as strengthen the bond between sailors and the state, Lanba said.
Occasions such as this provide the crew an opportunity to interact and share perspectives and more importantly build bridges of friendship with friendly maritime nations, the navy chief added.
Lanba's introductory visit underscores the warm and long- standing bilateral defence ties, strengthened by the revised Defence Cooperation Agreement signed in 2015 as well as the Air Force and Army Bilateral Agreements concluded in 2007 and 2008 respectively.