NEW DELHI: The 25th edition of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) began off Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar islands on Saturday. The previous edition of the exercise was held off Singapore in the South China Sea in May 2017.
To mark the silver jubilee of these exercises -- which evolved from a modest attempt to exchange best practices in anti-submarine warfare into a complex high stakes naval exercise -- both navies are undertaking exercises over an extended geography, from Port Blair to Vishakapatnam.
The Indian Navy recently inducted its own DSRV and proved the capability at sea on the western seaboard. According to a Navy press release, SIMBEX 2018 will be the largest edition since 1994 in terms of scale and complexity. The initial harbour phase will be held at Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands from 10 to 12 November followed by Sea Phase from 12 to 16 November in the Andaman Sea. The second harbour phase from 16 to 19 November will be held at Visakhapatnam, where Silver Jubilee Commemoration Ceremony, various professional and training interactions, 10 Km 'Friendship Run' during the Annual Vizag-Navy Marathon, social evening and joint cultural programmes would be held.
The final sea phase would be held in the Bay of Bengal from 19 to 21 November. The diverse range of exercises at sea range from live weapon drills including multiple missile firings, Heavy Weight Torpedo (HWT) and Medium Range Gun/ Anti Submarine Rocket firings; advanced Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercises, Submarine Rescue demonstrations; integrated Surface and Anti-Air Warfare (AAW); Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations and Cross Deck Helicopter flying among others. The number of missiles and torpedo firings being undertaken are in fact unprecedented and perhaps the largest the Indian Navy has undertaken with any foreign Navy till date.
The Indian Navy is deploying the Ranvir class destroyer - INS Ranvijay, two Project 17 multirole stealth frigates - INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, the Project 28 ASW corvette - INS Kadmatt the Project 25A missile corvettes, INS Kirch, the OPVs INS Sumedha and INS Sukanya, the Fleet Support Ship, INS Shakti, a Sindhughosh Class submarine, INS Sindhukirti, the P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol and ASW aircraft from INAS 312, Dornier 228 Maritime Patrol aircraft from INAS 311, Mk 132 Hawk AJTs from INAS 551 and integral helicopters such as the UH3H, Seaking 42 B, Seaking 42C and Chetak utility helicopters for the exercise.
The Republic of Singapore Navy is being represented by two Formidable Class stealth frigates - RSS Formidable and RSS Steadfast, one Littoral Mission Vessel - RSS Unity, two Missile Corvettes, RSS Vigour and RSS Valiant, an Archer class Submarine, RSS Swordsman, 'Swift Rescue' a Deep Sea Rescue Vehicle (DSRV), a Fokker F50 maritime reconnaissance aircraft, embarked S70B helicopters and Scan Eagle unmanned aerial systems.