The 25th edition of SIMBEX “Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise” is scheduled from 10th to 21st November 2018 off Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
- Bilateral cooperation between India and Singapore was first formalized when the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) ships began training with the Indian Navy in 1994.
- It began as a modest endeavour to exchange best practices in the field of Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and in the recent years, it has evolved into complex high stakes exercise with both nations attaching premium in terms of time, complex advanced exercise and types of platforms involved.
- Indian Navy and RSN share a long-standing relationship with regular professional interactions. It includes exchange programmes, staff talks and cross-attendance at courses.
WHAT IS SIMBEX ?
- SIMBEX are a series of naval exercises between the Indian Navy and the Republic of Singapore Navies.
- The word ‘SIMBEX’ is an abbreviation of Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise.
- This year marks the Silver Jubilee of SIMBEX. To mark the historical occasion, both navies are undertaking exercises over an extended geography.
- This year, the Indian Navy is being represented by the-
- Ranvir class destroyer – INS Ranvijay,
- two Project 17 multirole stealth frigates – INS Satpura & 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.
- The RSN 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.
- India has recently inducted its own Deep Sea Rescue Vehicle and proved the capability at sea on the western seaboard.
DEVELOPMENT BETWEEN INDIA & SINGAPORE RELATIONS
- Indo-Singapore bilateral relations have been on an upswing in the recent time.
- To complement India’s “Act-East” policy, the country has entered into a number of agreements and high-level visits between the two countries.
- Both countries have a full calendar of more than 20 bilateral mechanisms, dialogues and exercises, many of which take place annually.
- In November 2015, the robust relationship between India and Singapore was elevated to “Strategic Partnership”.
MAJOR AGREEMENTS SIGNED IN RECENT TIMES
- In June this year, India and Singapore inked many agreements including those under the ‘Defence and Strategic Partnership Sectors’ on the sidelines of the ‘Shangrila Dialogue’.
- The major among them is the ‘Implementation Agreement between the Indian Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy concerning Mutual Coordination, Logistics and Service Support for Naval Ships’, Submarines and Naval Aircraft visits.
- The implementation Agreement has facilitated deployment of naval assets from bases of the other through logistics and services support.
- Both countries agreed to undertake continuous and institutionalized naval engagements in their shared maritime space including establishing maritime exercises with like-minded regional / ASEAN partners.
- Both countries had commended the Armed Forces for maintaining a high level of annual exercises, goodwill visits and professional exchanges.
- SIMBEX: Both nations also remarked that they looked forward to the 25th and enhanced edition of bilateral annual naval exercises SIMBEX.
- The previous edition of the exercise was held off Singapore in the South China Sea in May 2017.
WHY 2018 EDITION IS SPECIAL ?
- The 2018 edition marks the Silver Jubilee of SIMBEX. To mark the historical occasion, both navies are undertaking exercises over an extended geography.
- 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 – ‘the City of Destiny’.
- The final sea phase would be held in the Bay of Bengal from 19 to 21 November.
- The 25th edition will witness a diverse range of exercises at sea ranging 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, indicative of the growing trust and operational comfort between the two navies.
- This year would also witness the highest numbers and variety of platforms fielded by both sides. Over the years the two navies have increased their interoperability to a level that could be matched by few other navies.
QUICK FACTS OF INDIAN NAVY
- The origins of the modern Indian navy are traced to a maritime force established by the East Indian Company in the 17th Century.
- Originally called the Royal Indian Navy, the Indian Navy was founded in 1612 by the East India Company and it was renamed as the Indian Navy on 26th January 1950 after India’s independence.
- Indian Navy has the following three Commands, each under the control of a Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief:-
- The Western Naval Command (Headquarters at Mumbai).
- The Eastern Naval Command (Headquarters at Visakhapatnam)
- The Southern Naval Command (Headquarters at Kochi)
- The Western and the Eastern Naval Commands are ‘Operational Commands’, and exercise control over operations in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal respectively. The Southern Command is the Training Command.
- 4th December is celebrated as Navy Day in the country.
- The BrahMos missile is the fastest cruise missile in the world with a speed of Mach, which makes India the only country with supersonic cruise missiles in India’s navy, army and air force.
- In Asia, the largest naval academy is the Ezhimala Naval Academy in Kerala.
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Raje Bhosale is considered as the Father of the Indian Navy. To protect sea trade, he built a strong naval presence across the coast of Konkan and Goa.
When India turned to the East, Singapore became a partner and a bridge between India and ASEAN. At present, relations between India and Singapore are among the warmest and closest. SIMBEX is an important outcome of this bilateral engagement and it is through these interactions that the two navies continue to reinforce the strong maritime bridges of friendship that connect our respective nations. SIMBEX 2018 will be the largest edition since 1994 in terms of scale and complexity.