Navy’s largest exercise Milan to bring together over 35 countries

Exercise Milan is scheduled to be held from February 25 to March 4 for which 46 countries have been invited

February 11, 2022 10:56 pm | Updated February 12, 2022 10:24 am IST - NEW DELHI

Indian Navy ships fire weapons. File

Indian Navy ships fire weapons. File

The Navy is set to hold the 12th President’s Fleet Review (PFR) on February 21 at Visakhapatnam and few days from that it will host the largest multilateral exercise in this region, Milan 2022, which will see participation of all major Navies including Quad countries, Russia and from West Asia amid tensions in Ukraine and developments in West Asia.

Exercise Milan is scheduled to be held from February 25 to March 4 for which 46 countries have been invited. So far over 35 countries having confirmed participation, this will be the largest multilateral exercise in this region, a defence official said on Friday.

This year’s Milan will see the participation of all Quad countries, with the U.S. being invited for the first time.

The invitees include all Indian Ocean littoral states and countries from south-east Asia among others. For the 2020 edition of the exercise, 41 countries of which 30 had confirmed participation but the exercise was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic,

Shifted to Visakhapatnam

Milan began in 1995 and is held biennially and brings together Navies of all the countries in the region. It has so far been held at Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar but is now being shifted to Visakhapatnam which offers more infrastructure as well as sea space for the exercise.

The harbour phase is scheduled from February 25 to 28 and the sea phase from March 1 to 4. It has several themes such as ant-submarine warfare among others along with deliberations, including by subject matter experts.

During the exercise, the Navy will also be showcasing its Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV) capabilities meant to rescue submarines in distress. India is one of the few countries in the region which possesses this capability.

Fleet Review

A Fleet Review is usually conducted once during the tenure of the President. Since Independence 11 PFRs have been conducted by the Navy, of which two have been International Fleet Reviews in 2011 and 2016. In terms of significance, the Navy’s Presidential review is second only to the Republic Day Parade, one official stated.

More than 60 ships from the Navy, Coast Guard, Shipping Corporation of India and the National Institute of Ocean technology and submarines and more than 50 aircraft are expected to be part of the PFR this year.

Over 44 ships will be at anchorage and one of the ships will be converted into the President’s yacht. The first PFR was held in 1953 for the first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

There has been huge increase in the Indian Navy’s engagements in the Indo-Pacific with several countries keen on exercising with India. Over the last few years, India has signed a series of logistics support agreements and white shipping agreements with a series of countries as part of efforts to improve the operational turnaround and improve logistics of the Indian armed forces in the region and also improve Maritime Domain Awareness. These agreements have been very helpful in significantly improving operational turnaround, officials acknowledge.

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