Indian Navy takes part in multi nation exercise in SCS

Indian Navy takes part in multi nation exercise in SCS

Group Sail by Indian, US, Japan and Philippines warships in the South China Sea

Two Indian warships participated in a six-day, four-nation maritime drill in the contentious South China Sea that remains at the core of China's maritime dispute with several countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Destroyer INS Kolkata and tanker INS Shakti carried out formation manoeuvering with the warships of US, Japan and Philippines to “ensure safe maritime environment through enhanced interoperability.”

The Indian ships from the Eastern Naval Command were on overseas deployment for more than a month during which they visited Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam; Qingdao in China and Busan in South Korea.

At Qingdao, the two ships participated in the International Fleet Review as part of the 70th Anniversary Celebration of PLA (Navy).

During their stay in Busan, they took part in the opening ceremony of the maritime security field training exercise, under the aegis of ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM-PLUS).

For the South China Sea group sailing, the combatants from other countries were destroyer USS Williams P Lawrence of the USA; helicopter carrier JMSDF Izumo and guided missile destroyer JMSDF Murasame of Japan and frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio of Philippines.

“The Group Sail was aimed to deepen the existing partnership and foster mutual understanding among participating navies,” says an Indian Navy statement, without any reference to the contentious nature of the site.

This is not the first time Indian ships took part in mock drills in the South China Sea. Almost three years ago INS Airavat attended a similar drill involving several countries.

In 2015 addressing the ASEAN Defence Minister's Meeting, then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had stated that India wanted a code of conduct for every nation to follow while passing through the disputed South China Sea that remained the most controversial geographical space in the Indian Ocean because of China's territorial claims.

The second part of the 2019 ASEAN maritime field training exercise would be held at the South China Sea between May 9-12 where all the four countries would participate.

On completion, the participating ships will attend the closing ceremony of ASEAN meeting and the International Maritime Defence Expo 2019 in Singapore before returning home.