NEW DELHI: The navy today called-off a month-long exercise that involved nearly all its operational assets – warships, submarines and aircraft – that was being held mostly in the Bay of Bengal but also in parts of the south Indian Ocean.
This means that all major platforms of the navy are now available for contingencies immediately. New Delhi is currently monitoring the situation in the Maldives but is not taking a military posture till diplomatic efforts are exhausted.
In 2015, two warships were asked to peel off from an exercise called Tropex in the Arabian Sea and head to the Gulf of Aden to evacuate Indians and others stranded in Yemen.
Among the annual exercises conducted by the navy was the Tropex. But this year onwards the navy had decided to conduct separate exercises on the eastern and western seaboards. The Eastern Naval Command Theatre Level Readiness Exercise (ENCORE) involved more than 40 ships and submarines, including those from the western fleet and the Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC). Notably, the ANC is a tri-service command (of the army, the navy and the air force).
“ENCORE assumes great significance in the backdrop of current security scenario. The exercise provided an apt opportunity to test the combat capability of the ENC (Eastern Naval Command headquartered in Visakhapatnam) and refine action plans and contingencies for operations in complex maritime conflict zones,” the navy source said.
A navy source said P8i Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft, remotely piloted aircraft, air early warning aircraft and anti-submarine (ASW) aircraft were also part of the exercise. In a typical scenario of naval warfare exercises, the total fleet is divided into red (adversarial) and blue (friendly) forces. The involvement of the ANC indicates that landing drills, in which flat-bottomed vessels unload troops on a seashore, were also part of the exercise. Planes from the Indian Air Force were also included.