Port Blair: The 25th edition of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) kicked off on Saturday with gusto as frontline ships of the Eastern Fleet of the Indian Navy and those of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) made their entry into the waters at Port Blair.
The bilateral exercise is scheduled to end on November 21 and the Defence Minister of Singapore Ng Eng Hen is also expected to attend the event.
The High Commissioner of India to Singapore, Jawed Ashraf tweeted, “A friendship of heart, values and purpose. Welcome Singapore Navy. Thank you for being there in unprecedented strength. Best for the next two weeks. Looking forward to the visit of Defence Minister HE @Ng_Eng_Hen to #SIMBEX2018”
SIMBEX 2018 is the largest edition since 1994 in terms of scale and complexity. The naval exercise is slated to be held across Indian waters, with the initial harbour phase being held at Port Blair from November 10 to 12 followed by Sea Phase from November 12 to 16 in the Andaman Sea.
Subsequently, the second harbour phase will be held at Visakhapatnam from November 16 to 19.
The 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 will all be held during the harbour phases to commemorate the 25th anniversary.
The final sea phase will be held in the Bay of Bengal from November 19 to 21. High level delegations including respective Defence Ministries are also scheduled to observe the exercises including advanced weapon firings marking a new high in the series, according to an official press release.
The Indian Navy is being represented by the Ranvir class destroyer-INS Ranvijay, two Project 17 multirole stealth frigates-INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, Project 28 ASW corvette-INS Kadmatt, 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 this year at SIMBEX.
The Republic of Singapore Navy, on the other hand, 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 at the maritime exercise.
The previous edition of the exercise was held off Singapore in the South China Sea in May 2017.