Indian Navy’s largest multilateral exercise Milan 2022, which saw the participation of over 40 countries, ended on Friday. The sea phase of the 11th edition saw the participation of 26 ships, one submarine and 21 aircraft, the Navy said in a statement.
“A series of complex and advanced exercises were undertaken in all three dimensions of naval operations to enhance compatibility, interoperability, mutual understanding and maritime cooperation amongst the partner navies,” the Navy said on Saturday. The closing ceremony was held in a unique format with the Commanding Officers of the participating ships arriving by helicopters and boats onboard INS Jalashwa at anchorage, it stated.
The harbour phase was held from February 25 to 28 and the sea phase from March 1 to 4.
The sea phase commenced with a series of exercises to enhance the interoperability amongst the participating navies, the statement said. The first two days at sea included complex anti-air warfare drills, with U.S.’ P-8A aircraft shepherding a strike of Indian fighter aircraft on a formation of warships of the participating navies, the Navy elaborated. “Additionally, weapon firings against low-flying air targets were conducted, which reflected the proficiency of the crews and high levels of interoperability.”
Held amid tensions
The exercise, held amid tensions between the West and Russia and the crisis in Ukraine, saw the warships of the Quad countries; France; Myanmar; South Korea and Vietnam and among others practice completing drills. Russia, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia among others are participating in the exercise without ships.
Cross-deck landing operations were carried out during the helicopter operations, while ships from the participating countries undertook the exercise of replenishment at sea with the Indian Navy’s tanker, which required precise manoeuvring and seamanship skills, the statement noted.
The Sea phase also witnessed an increase in the “complexity of exercises including underway replenishment, advanced anti-submarine exercises with participation by aircraft, surface target firings and simulation of complex operational scenarios.”
The closing ceremony was presided over by Rear Adm Sanjay Bhalla, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet and included a debrief of the exercises conducted at sea.
Starting with the participation of four countries, - Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand - in 1995, the exercise has since transitioned in terms of the number of participants and complexity of exercises. Earlier, the exercise was held at Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar but this edition was shifted to Visakhapatnam as it offers more infrastructure as well as sea space for the exercise.