ASEAN-India naval exercise demonstrated to operate as integrated force: Navy

New Delhi: The Indian Navy on Tuesday said its exercise with the ASEAN navies in the South China Sea demonstrated the ability of the two sides to operate as an integrated force to promote peace, stability and security in the region.

The two-day sea-phase of the ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise in the South China Sea that ended on Monday assumed significance as it came amid increasing concerns among leading global players including India over China’s increasing muscle-flexing in the region.

A number of Chinese surveillance ships kept a watch on the military exercise, people familiar with the matter said.

China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea, a huge source of hydrocarbons. However, several ASEAN member countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei, have counterclaims.

Officials said approximately 1400 personnel manning nine ships participated in the sea phase of the multilateral naval exercise. Indian Navy deployed indigenously designed and built destroyer INS Delhi, stealth frigate INS Satpura, maritime patrol aircraft P-8I and integral helicopters for the exercise.

Naval ships from ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam were part of the mega wargame, the officials said.

“The two-day sea-phase witnessed a wide spectrum of evolutions at sea including tactical manoeuvres, cross deck landings by helicopters, seamanship evolutions and other maritime operations,” the Indian Navy said.

“Apart from honing skills in the maritime domain the exercise enhanced interoperability and demonstrated the ability of Indian & ASEAN navies to operate as an integrated force to promote peace, stability and security in the region,” it said in a statement.