Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Two Indian naval vessels, the cadet training ship INS Tir (A86) and the Sukanya-class patrol ship INS Sujata (P56), are participating in the India Mozambique Tanzania (IMT) Tri-Lateral Exercise (Trilat) which is currently underway off the southeast African coast.

The exercise is taking place between 21 to 29 March, with the aim of strengthening cooperation between India, Mozambique, and Tanzania, the Indian Navy said.

The two Indian Navy vessels, INS Tir and INS Sujata, are representing the Indian Navy, with INS Tir arriving at Zanzibar and INS Sujata at Mozambique’s Port of Maputo. The Indian Coast Guard Ship Sarathi is also participating along with Mozambique and Tanzanian Navy ships.

INS Sujata is based at Southern Naval Command in Kochi.

The first edition of the IMT Trilat exercise was conducted in October 2022, with the participation of the frigate INS Tarkash (F50) exercising with the Tanzanian and Mozambique Navies.

The current edition of the exercise is planned in two phases.

As part of the harbour phase scheduled from 21-24 March, Naval ships Tir and Sujata engaged with the respective Navies at the ports of Zanzibar (Tanzania) and Maputo (Mozambique).

This phase began with a Planning Conference followed by joint harbour training activities like damage control, fire fighting, visit board search and seizure procedures, medical lectures, casualty evacuation and diving operations.

The sea phase of the exercise now underway until 27 March covers practical aspects of countering asymmetric threats, visit board search and seizure procedures, boat handling, manoeuvres and firing exercises.

A joint exclusive economic zone (EEZ) surveillance is included during the sea phase.

The exercise will conclude with a joint debrief scheduled at Mozambique’s Port of Nacala.

During the harbour stay, Indian Naval ships were open for visitors and crews partook in sports and cultural exchanges with host Navies.

The Indian Navy said these activities underscore India’s outreach to foster friendly relations through maritime cooperation, aligning with the maritime vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, known as “SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region” with emphasis on the Global South.

In recent months the Indian Navy has been very active off the northeast coast of Africa, and since the Israel-Hamas conflict spilling over to the maritime domain, with Houthi forces attacking shipping off Yemen in solidarity with Palestine, India has enhanced the scope of its maritime security operations.

The navy undertook proactive action during the hijacking of the Malta Flagged Bulk Carrier MV Ruen on 14 December 2023. The Indian Navy said 23 March marked the completion of 100 days of ongoing maritime security operations under the aegis of ‘Op Sankalp’. During this time, the Indian Navy responded to 18 incidents in the Indian Ocean Region.

This included a well-coordinated operation that lasted some 40 hours, culminating in the Indian Navy retaking the MV Ruen from Somali pirates, rescuing the 17 crew members on board and apprehending two dozen pirates on 16 March.

The Indian Navy has a sizeable presence in the Red Sea region, with a dozen warships deployed to provide security against pirates as Western powers focus on attacks by Yemen’s Houthis.

In January, the Indian Navy foiled two hijackings by Somali pirates within days. On 29 January, the fishing vessel Al Naeemi and her crew (19 Pakistani nationals) were rescued by the Indians from 11 Somali pirates after the Iranian-flagged fishing vessel was boarded and her crew taken hostage.

The INS Kolkata with captured Somali pirates.

The day before, the INS Sumitra was again in action off the Somali coast when she responded to a distress message regarding the hijacking of the Iranian flagged fishing vessel Iman, which had been boarded by pirates and the crew taken as hostages.

The Indian Navy said INS Sumitra intercepted the vessel and coerced the pirates to safely release the 17 crew along with the boat. “The fishing vessel was subsequently sanitised and released for onward transit.”

On 5 January, the Indian Navy rescued another vessel from pirates – 21 crew were evacuated from the MV Lila Norfolk in the North Arabian Sea a day after it was boarded by half a dozen armed men off Somalia’s coast.

Based on the threat assessment in the region, the Indian Navy is conducting maritime security operations in three areas of operations viz Gulf of Aden and adjoining areas, Arabian Sea and off the East Coast of Somalia. Since December, the Indian Navy has deployed over 5 000 personnel at sea, over 450 ship days (with over 21 ships deployed) and reached 900 hours of flying by the maritime surveillance aircraft to address threats in the maritime domain.

By Joy

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