The regional grouping Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) conducted its maiden edition of maritime exercise, IMEX-22, at Goa and in the Arabian Sea from March 26 to 30. The exercise witnessed participation of 16 of the 25 member nations.
“The aim of the exercise was to enhance interoperability in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations among member navies,” the Navy said. The participants validated the IONS HADR guidelines and developed response mechanisms for providing HADR from sea to shore and for rendering assistance to ships and crafts in distress at sea, it said.
The exercise is seen as a significant stepping stone for regional navies to collaborate and respond collectively to natural disasters in the region and paves way for further strengthening regional cooperation, a Navy official said.
The IMEX–22 comprised a harbour phase at Mormugao Port, Goa, from March 26 to 27 followed by a sea phase in the Arabian Sea from March 28 to 30. The participation included warships, maritime reconnaissance aircraft and helicopters from the navies of Bangladesh, France, India and Iran.
In addition, 22 Observers from 15 IONS member navies, namely Australia, Bangladesh, France, India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the UAE and the U.K. also participated in the exercise.
The chiefs of the Indian and French navies witnessed exercises during the sea phase and also attended the post exercise debrief, the Navy said.
Ability to address contingencies
The official said the IMEX-22 aimed to develop the IONS capability to efficiently and effectively coordinate amongst member nations the ability to address a HADR contingency, coordinate the operations, build upon the individual strengths and develop interoperability in critical areas such as search and rescue operations, cross deck operations of helicopters, medical support, diving expertise and seamless communications.
The IONS, established in 2007, is a premier forum for cooperation and collaboration among the navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region. The forum has enabled discussions on regional maritime issues, promoted friendly relationships, and significantly improved maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region.