India, Singapore and Thailand holding mega naval exercise in Andaman Sea

New Delhi, Nov 15 (PTI) The navies of India, Singapore and Thailand on Monday carried out a series of complex military drills in the Andaman Sea on the first day of a two-day mega naval exercise.

The Indian Navy said the exercise highlights the growing synergy, coordination and cooperation in the maritime domain between the three friendly navies.

It has deployed missile corvette Karmuk while Singapore is being represented by RSS Tenacious, a formidable class frigate. Thailand has sent Khamrosin class anti-submarine patrol craft Thayanchon to the SITMEX exercise.

The exercise is being conducted annually since 2019 with an aim to enhance mutual inter-operability, imbibing best practices among the three navies.

The maiden edition of SITMEX was hosted by the Indian Navy off Port Blair in September 2019 while it was organised in 2020 by the Republic of Singapore Navy. The 2021 edition of the exercise is being hosted by Royal Thai Navy.

“The exercise is being conducted as a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ exercise in view of COVID-19 restrictions and highlights growing synergy, coordination and cooperation in the maritime domain between the three friendly navies,” the Indian Navy said in a statement.

“The two days of maritime drills will witness the three navies engaged in various tactical exercises including naval manoeuvres and surface warfare drills,” it said. The Navy said the exercise will fortify the long-standing bond of friendship and further enhance the cooperation between the participating navies towards augmenting the overall maritime security in the region.

The Indian Navy has been gradually expanding its presence in the Indian Ocean region in the last few years.

Notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian Navy participated in maritime exercises in the last few months with a number of countries.

Last month, India held the Malabar exercise that was also participated by the navies of the US, Japan and Australia.

India invited Australia for the exercise last year as well as this year effectively making it a drill by all the Quad member nations.

The Quad, comprising India, the US, Australia and Japan, is aimed at ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific, a region that witnessed increasing Chinese military assertiveness in recent years.

China has been suspicious about the purpose of the Malabar exercise as it feels that the annual war game is an effort to contain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.