Indian Navy and ASEAN navies complete inaugural combined maritime exercise

INS Satpura
The Indian Navy (IN) Project 17 Shivalik-class frigate INS Satpura was one of two IN surface ships deployed to AIME 2023. The ship is pictured here visiting Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 2022. (Credit: US Navy)

The Indian Navy (IN) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) conducted their inaugural combined maritime exercise in early May, with the training designed to build collaboration in addressing common maritime security challenges.

The exercise – known as the ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise (AIME) 2023 – was hosted by ASEAN member state Singapore, and included harbour and at-sea phases. The harbour phase took place at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base from 2-4 May; the at-sea phase took place in international waters in the South China Sea, along the transit route to the Philippines, on 7-8 May.

Nine ships and six aircraft participated in the at-sea activities. From amongst ASEAN’s 10 member states, naval ships from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam were present. For the Indian Navy, the lead Project 15 destroyer INS Delhi, the Project 17 Shivalik-class frigate INS Satpura, and a P8I maritime patrol aircraft took part.

The IN’s ships were drawn from its Eastern Fleet, and deployed to the exercise under the fleet’s flag officer Rear Admiral Gurcharan Singh.

During the shore phase, personnel practiced visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) drills.

“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, in a statement on 12 May.

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

In a statement issued as the exercise got underway, the Singapore Ministry of Defence noted that the maritime security serials would include the participating ships tracking the movement of simulated vessels of interest, cued by alerts from ASEAN international liaison officers attached to the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Information Fusion Centre (IFC), located at Changi Naval Base.

IN ships visiting for the exercise also participated in the Singapore-hosted International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX) Asia event at Changi Exhibition Centre.

Singapore co-hosted AIME 2023 in its capacity as the current country co-ordinator for ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations.

by Dr. Lee Willett