In a first, two warships from India and China are participating in an exercise off the Australian coast on the measures needed by the two navies to protect international sea lanes.
Stealth frigate INS Sahyadri and People‚Äôs Liberation Army‚Äôs Luhu-class naval destroyers Qingdao, are participating in the maritime security field training exercise underway since Monday at Jervis Bay on the south coast of New South Wales. The exercise focuses on maritime security, including anti-piracy drills and checking illegal immigration.
Though naval ships from India and China were making port calls in the past, this is the first time the two navies are meeting in the Indian Ocean for an exercise, said a navy officer.
The exercise, however, is not bilateral. Several warships from Asean nations are also taking part in this multi-country field training programme.
Besides India and China, battleships from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia too are participating in the programme till October 2.
Subsequently all the ships would participate in an international fleet review between October 4 and 11, organised by the Royal Australian Navy on its 150th anniversary.
Even though India and China are not on the same page on navigational rights in the South China Sea, the two navies agreed to increase ship visits, conducting joint maritime search and rescue exercises and cooperate in counter-piracy operations.
Participation of the Indian warship in Australian fleet review is one of the steps New Delhi is taking to consolidate its friendship with Canberra in strategic affairs. New Delhi will take part in the centenary celebrations of Gallipoli campaign ‚Äì the first major battle for Australia and New Zealand ‚Äì in 2015. There will also be a bilateral naval exercise in 2015.