The Indian Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy are currently conducting a five-day joint naval exercise in the South China Sea. The naval exercise alternates each year in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea in order to augment bilateral maritime relations between the two nations.
The Indian Naval exercise is headed by Rear Admiral Harish Chandra Singh Bisht and the Indian naval ships attending the drill include INS Delhi, INS Ranvijay, INS Ranveer, INS Jyoti and INS Kirch. These ships are manned by 1,400 naval personnel participating in the exercise. Singapore will have four naval ships including a submarine and its navy is headed by Rear Admiral Joseph Leong.
Although the naval exercises have included live firing in the past, the current drills will be conducted as mock warfare and the most powerful Indian naval ship, INS Ranvijay will carry out anti-submarine and anti-missile exercises. These exercises are aimed at building a greater rapport between the two naval forces.
Another important aspect of this joint exercise is to handle major threats to maritime security in the region including that of piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Since 2008, Indian Navy has deployed over 23 ships by rotation in the piracy-infested Gulf of Aden. According to sources, over 1,400 merchant vessels have been escorted safely, over 1200 of them from about 50 other countries, and 26 piracy attempts have been foiled in the past by Indian Navy. With the joint naval exercises, the Indian Navy has focused on capacity building and coordination with the intention of making one of the busiest shipping channels around the world free from disruption and allowing a smooth flow of international trade.
The current naval exercise between India and Singapore marks the 18th year of naval cooperation between the two countries and during this period; the exercises have graduated from the anti- submarine exercises to passing exercises to more complex simulation, war time strategy and war gaming. The current naval exercise will also help Indian Navy’s strategic orientation in the South China Sea in the light of increasing naval modernization of China and the latent threat involved.
In fact, India‘s defence cooperation with Singapore has been the most prominent among other South-east Asian countries since both countries conduct joint exercises with all the three wings of the armed forces. Currently, the "Bold Kurukshetra” joint exercise between the Indian Army and Singapore Army is also being carried out in Jhansi in central India and is expected to wind-up by March-end. The two armies are involved in multi-tiered planning, use of modern equipment and the joint performing of missions by combat groups and artillery batteries besides anti-militancy exercises for the soldiers.