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Sri Lanka Navy–Indian Navy Bolstering friendship on the high seas

Source : Daily News Lanka

Sri Lanka Navy–Indian Navy Bolstering friendship on the high seas
Sri Lanka Navy–Indian Navy Bolstering friendship on the high seas

The training ships of the 1st Training Squadron of the Indian Navy, INS Shardul, INS Magar (Landing Ship Tanker), INS Sujata, INS Sudarshini, INS Tarangini and coast guard vessel ICGS Vikram, which arrived in Sri Lanka for a bilateral naval exercise on October 24, 2021, departed Sri Lanka on October 27 and 28, 2021, on successful completion of naval exercises held in Colombo and Trincomalee.

The naval crews were helmed by Captain Aftab Ahmed Khan, Senior Officer – First Training Squadron. A total of 75 officers, 153 officer cadets and 530 sailors, formed this naval contingent. The Indian cadets consisted of the 100th IOTC training course which is a remarkable coincidence.

Subsequently, Flag Officer Commander-in-Chief –Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy, Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit in parallel with the bilateral naval exercise. The Southern Naval Command is based in Kochi, Kerala.

As one of the finest destinations for training, the Indian Navy has trained more than 11,000 international trainees from over 40 countries in the last four decades. The school trains the Executive Officers of the Indian Navy. During his visit, Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla met with Foreign Ministry Secretary Jayanath Colombage, Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana and Commanders of Eastern and Southern Naval Areas.

Further, he took time off to attend several programmes organised by the National Defence College and Naval and Maritime Academy, Trincomalee which has a heritage of over 50 years. The bilateral naval exercise focused on the enhancement of interoperability between the two Navies as partners committed to the security of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

The bilateral naval exercise was held adhering to COVID-19 protocols in a virtual setting. During the exercise, a selected group of Indian naval personnel took part in a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) training programme at the Rapid Action Boat Squadron Headquarters and Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) training in the ‘Ship in the Box’ simulator at the Special Boat Squadron Headquarters located in Trincomalee. The SBS is the elite commando arm of the Sri Lanka Navy.

Meanwhile, a Hello Landing exercise on INS Sujata was conducted for SLN personnel of the Naval Fleet Command at the Trincomalee Harbour. Exchange of best practices in this nature of programmes will be instrumental for the success of maritime operations conducted by the two Navies to overcome the non-traditional and common maritime challenges in the Indian Ocean Region. Let us look at the ships of the Indian Navy which took part in this exercise.

INS Sujata is a Sukanya Class vessel of the Indian Navy commissioned in November 1993. She has a displacement of 1,890 tonnes and a range of 7,000 nautical miles. INS Sujata carries a crew of 70 personnel. Her armaments include a 40mm anti aircraft gun, two 12.7 mm machine guns and can carry one ballistic missile. This vessel can accommodate one Chetak helicopter.

INS Tir (A86) (Hindi meaning Arrow) is the first dedicated cadets training ship to be built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited and commissioned as such by the Indian Navy. She is the senior ship of the 1st Training Squadron of the Southern Naval Command. She has a displacement of 3,200 tonnes. INS Tir was commissioned on February 21, 1986. Sensors on board INS Tir include Decca Radar and a SATNAV (Satellite Navigation) system. She can carry up to 293 people on board, though her typical deployment is with 20 Navy instructors and staff and 120 cadets.

INS Shardul started sea trials on November 3, 2006 and was commissioned into the Indian Navy on January 4, 2007 by Defence Minister A.K Antony at the naval base INS Kadamba in Karwar. The ship was based at the Southern Naval Command in Kochi to train cadets. In March 2017, the ship was deployed on a two-month-long deployment in the south Indian Ocean to provide surveillance support in the region.

The sail training ships INS Sudarshini and INS Tarangini of the 1st Training Squadron of the Indian Navy encompass all the facilities required to impart traditional basic naval knowledge in sail training. The sail ship familiarisation for SLN officer cadets at the Naval and Maritime Academy provided them a rare opportunity to be conversant with such vessels. INS Sudarshini is a sail training ship built by the Goa Shipyard Limited for the Indian Navy. The ship is a sister ship of INS Tarangini which was commissioned in 1997.

The name “Sudarshini” means “beautiful lady” The ship was designed by Colin Mudie, a naval architect and yacht designer from the United Kingdom. INS Sudarshini is a three-masted sailing ship. It is 54 meters long and has 20 sails, 7.5 km of rope and 1.5 km of steel wire rope. Its sails have a total area of approximately 1,035 square metres (11,140 sq ft).

Capable of operations under sail or power, and with a sailing complement of five officers, 31 sailors and 30 cadets embarked for training, it can remain at sea for 20 days at a time. INS Sudarshini started her first nine nation voyage of ASEAN countries on September 15, 2012 to trace the ancient route taken by Indian mariners to South East Asia. During the course of the 12,000 mile voyage, she visited 13 ports in nine ASEAN countries. While on the voyage, the ship’s embarked Indian Naval and Coast Guard cadets, as well as cadets from other ASEAN countries. INS Tarangini has the distinction of circumnavigating the world.

Enhancing camaraderie between the navies of both countries a yoga programme was conducted in Colombo and Trincomalee and a friendly volleyball match was played at the Naval and Maritime Academy with the participation of both navies. The personnel of the 1st Training Squadron of Indian Navy visited several tourist attractions in the country. The Indian Coast Guard vessel ICGS Vikram is 74 metres long with a beam of 11.4 metres. She has a displacement of 1,180 tonnes. ICGS Vikram is armed with a Mantra Defense Lynx optronic-directed 40mm 60 caliber Bofors Mk3 AA gun or dual 30mm CRN 91 Naval Gun. The ICGS Vikram has accommodation for a crew of 11 officers and 85 sailors.

Director General Operations at Navy Headquarters Rear Admiral Prasanna Mahawithana said “In the bilateral naval exercise held off Colombo and Eastern coast; SLNS Samudura, SLNS Nandimithra and SLNS Sindurala took part Search and Rescue (SAR), Divisional Tactics (DIVTACS), Station Keeping by Distance Line (SKBDL), Replenishment at Sea (RAS) and Communication exercises with the training ships of the 1st Training Squadron of the Indian Navy. Further, knowledge and best practices being shared between two navies during excise modules including Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) would be instrumental for the success of maritime operations conducted by the two navies to overcome common maritime challenges in the Indian Ocean region.”

Concluding tour events, INS Shardul and INS Magar of the Indian Navy conducted a successful Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with Sri Lanka Navy Ship (SLNS) Samudura and SLNS Nandimithra off Colombo and left the island on October 27. SLNS Samudura has a displacement of 760 tonnes with a crew of 12 officers and 63 sailors.

Meanwhile, INS Sujata, INS Sudarshini, INS Tarangini and ICGS Vikram also conducted a naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the Eastern coast and set sail on October 28. Further, the Sri Lanka Navy bade customary farewell to the departing Indian naval ships in compliance with timeless naval traditions.

Training has been one of the strongest and enduring pillars of India – Sri Lanka bilateral defence cooperation and this visit provided further impetus for same.

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