New Delhi, Oct 19: In order to enhance mutual cooperation in the maritime domain, India is preparing up for another bilateral maritime exercise. The eighth edition of the annual Indian Navy (IN) - Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) bilateral maritime exercise SLINEX-20 is scheduled off Trincomalee, Sri Lanka from October 19 to 21. The exercise is being conducted in a non-contact ‘at-sea-only’ format in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic.
The eighth edition of the annual SLINEX exercise will feature a series of complex drills i.e. surface and anti-air exercises including weapon firing, seamanship evolutions, manoeuvres and cross deck flying operations are planned during the exercise, which will further enhance the high degree of inter-operability already established between the two friendly navies. The previous edition of SLINEX was conducted off Visakhapatnam in September 2019.
The Sri Lanka Navy will be represented by SLN Ships Sayura (Offshore Patrol Vessel) and Gajabahu(Training Ship) led by Rear Admiral Bandara Jayathilaka, the Flag Officer Commanding Naval Fleet, Sri Lanka Navy. The Indian side will deploy indigenously-built anti-submarine warfare corvettes Kamorta and Kiltanunder under the command of Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet. Along with this, Indian Navy Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and Chetak helicopter embarked onboard IN ships, and Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft will also be participating.
"SLINEX-20 aims to enhance inter-operability, improve mutual understanding and exchange best practices and procedures for multi-faceted maritime operations between both navies. In addition, the exercise will also showcase capabilities of our indigenously constructed naval ships and aircraft," the Defence Ministry said.
It further added that the exercise exemplifies the deep engagement between India and Sri Lanka which has strengthened mutual cooperation in the maritime domain. "Interaction between the SLN and IN has also grown significantly in recent years, in consonance with India’s policy of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and Hon’ble PM’s vision of ‘Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR)’," it said.
"Synergy developed during SLINEX exercises resulted in seamless coordination of joint SLN – IN efforts in September 2020 to render assistance to MT New Diamond, a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), which had caught fire off the East Coast of Sri Lanka," it said.
The Indian Navy has been participating in a number of joint maritime exercises in the last few weeks. It concluded a three-day drill with the Japanese navy from September 26-28. In the same month, it also carried out a two-day mega exercise in the Indian Ocean Region with the Australian Navy that featured a range of complex naval manoeuvres, anti-aircraft drills and helicopter operations.
In July, the Indian Navy carried out a military exercise with a US Navy carrier strike group led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz off the coast of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The USS Nimitz is the world’s largest warship.
These bilateral exercises come in the backdrop of with tensions flaring regarding the India-China border standoff in eastern Ladakh, sending a message to Beijing.