Yokosuka, Japan: The Indian Navy conducted its first trilateral exercise with units from the US and Japanese navies off the Japanese coast. Ostensibly aimed at sharing operational and doctrinal expertise, the exercise is a major effort by the Indian Navy to project its power and reach well beyond the country's shores.
According to Indian Navy sources, guided missile destroyer INS Mysore, guided missile corvette INS Kuthar and fleet tanker INS Jyoti participated in the day-long exercise conducted off Yokosuka in Chiba prefecture. They conducted drills along with two destroyers of the US Seventh Fleet and three vessels of the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force.
The Indian Navy's flotilla of five frontline vessels are on an extended deployment in Southeast and East Asian waters for exercises with regional navies, as also those from China and Russia, apart from the US and Japan.
Meanwhile, in an effort aimed at allaying fears of India becoming part of the rising tensions in the region that engulf China, Taiwan, Japan and the United States, two vessels from the Indian Navy's flotilla, guided missile destroyers INS Rana and INS Ranjit, will also be concluding a five-day exercise with the Chinese navy off Quingdao on Tuesday. The flotilla then reassembles and heads for an exercise with the Russian Navy off Vladivostok from April 22-26.
Rear Admiral RK Dhawan, from the Indian Navy's Eastern Naval Command heads the flotilla.
On the return leg, the Indian flotilla will exercise with the navies of the Philippines and Vietnam. Two ships, INS Mysore and INS Kuthar, will thereafter proceed to Singapore to participate in the biennial International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX-2007) May 15-19. Indian Navy chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, is due to attend IMDEX-2007 along with counterparts from 22 nations.
The flotilla's two-month deployment began on March 18. The Indian Navy has already concluded an engagement with its US counterpart in a bilateral exercise held off Japan on April 6-11, and one prior to that with the Singapore Navy. The exercise with Singapore's navy was held under the aegis of SIMBEX, a regular feature that marks operational interaction between the two navies.
On their current deployment, the flotilla has already affected a rescue mission, of a kind for which warships are not designed. INS Rana went along side the stricken Indian merchant ship, the Shipping Corporation of India's MV Maharashtra and repaired its main diesel alternators. The flotilla also supplied 10 tons of fuel to enable MV Maharashtra to continue on her passage. The operation was conducted 270 nautical miles north east of the southern Vietnamese city of Ho Chi Minh city, formerly Saigon.