International naval drill at Port Blair

17 COUNTRIES TO PARTICIPATE IN 6-DAY EVENT FROM 4 FEB

By bappaditya paul
Come 4 February
and Port Blair will be home to a six-day international Naval exercise with participation of the navies and maritime forces from 17 countries across the globe. Tagged as MILAN 2014  and being hosted by the Andaman and Nicobar Command of the Indian Navy, the event will be the largest ever gathering of Naval forces held in India.

A file photo of Milan 2012. - Photo Indian Navy
A file photo of Milan 2012.
– Photo Indian Navy

One of the high points of the event is a Passage Exercise of naval manoeuvres at sea wherein the visiting ships of all the 17 countries will participate. This will be on 9 February, the last day of the six-day event.
The Golden Jubilee of the oldest naval base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, INS Jarawa commissioned in 1964, will also be celebrated during the event.

The countries that are participating in the exercise come not just from the Bay of Bengal and the South East Asia; a number of navies hailing from the broad Indian Ocean Region (lOR) have also confirmed participation.This assumes special significance at a time when the Indian Navy has suffered several setbacks at close quarters in the form of mishaps etcetera.

According to Captain PVS Satish, the PRO of the Indian Navy based in New Delhi, the countries that have already confirmed participation in the international event include Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand.

Indian Navy logo
Indian Navy logo

“This is a congregation of littoral navies conducted biennially in Port Blair. Besides fostering co-operation through naval exercises and professional interactions, MILAN provides an excellent opportunity for participating navies to come together in a spirit of collaboration and to enhance mutual understanding,” Captain Satish said in an e-mailed response.

The first version of MILAN was held in 1995 with participation of navies only from four countries. But over the years the event has gained popularity; in the immediate past edition held in 2012, it had witnessed participation of 14 foreign navies.

Marine Commandos of Indian Navy demonstrate a water para jump from AN -32 aircraft  during Milan 2010. - Photo courtesy Indian Navy
Marine Commandos of Indian Navy demonstrate a water para jump from AN -32 aircraft during Milan 2010. – Photo courtesy Indian Navy

This time the event is being held with the underlying theme of Friendship Across the Seas and will showcase a diverse mix of professional interactions, social events and sporting fixtures. These include sharing of ideas on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and Search and Rescue (SAR) operations at sea on 5 February, a display by the Rapid Action Medical Team of the Indian Air Force, demonstrations by a sky diving team on 8 February.

Again on 8 February, there will be an International City Parade along the Marina Park Road in Port Blair with marching contingents from all the participating navies, the Indian Armed Forces, a fly past by military aircraft and demonstrations of various military operations.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 01 February 2014.)

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