Indian Navy

Indian Navy in maritime exercise with U.K. Carrier Strike Group in the Bay of Bengal

Published : July 23, 2021 11:23 IST

The U.K.'s Carrier Strike Group (CSG), led by the aricraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, during the joint maritime exercise with the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal. Photo: PTI

Ten ships, two submarines, over 20 aircraft and almost 4,000 naval personnel are taking part in the three-day maritime partnership exercise between the navies of India and the United Kingdom in the Bay of Bengal, which concludes on July 23.

Ten ships, two submarines, over 20 aircraft and almost 4,000 naval personnel are taking part in the three-day maritime partnership exercise between the navies of India and the United Kingdom in the Bay of Bengal, which concludes on July 23.

The U.K.’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2021 is led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s 65,000-tonne, fifth generation aircraft carrier and the largest surface vessel ever constructed in the U.K. The Indian side is spearheaded by the Shivalik class stealth, multirole frigate Indian Naval Ship (INS) Satpura. Also participating in the Indian side in the complex maritime interactions between the two navies are the Rajput class destroyer INS Ranvir, the Komandarm Fedko class replenishment oiler INS Jyoti, the anti-submarine warfare corvette INS Kavaratti, the Kora class corvette INS Kulish and a submarine. The Indian Navy is also showcasing its anti-submarine warfare-capable, long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, the P8I.

On the U.K. side, HMS Queen Elizabeth leads six Royal Navy ships, a Royal Navy Astute class submarine, a U.S. Navy destroyer, and a frigate from the Netherlands in the largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the U.K. in a generation. Taking off from the deck of the HMS Queen Elizabeth are fifth generation F-35B Lightning multirole aircraft. Jointly crewed by the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps, this is the maiden participation of the Lockheed Martin-manufactured, single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole F-35B Lightning in an exercise of this sort.

The exercises will see the two navies conducting a range of multi-ship, air, sea and sub-surface maritime evolutions, as well as close quarter manoeuvring. The maritime interaction will enable the two navies “to advance their interoperability and cooperation ahead of further exercises when the CSG returns to the Indian Ocean in the autumn”.

Incidentally, this is the CSG’s maiden operational deployment. The deployment will see the CSG sail over 26,000 nautical miles, engaging with 40 countries from the Mediterranean to the Indo-Pacific.

In a statement issued through the U.K. Foreign Office, Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander of the CSG, stated: “As HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group cross the Indian Ocean, it is only natural that we should exercise with the Indian Navy. At the strategic level, the exercise is a muscular expression of the closer defence partnership that Prime Ministers [Boris] Johnson and Narendra Modi envisaged when they agreed the U.K.-India road map 2030 earlier this year.”

The maritime exercise is designed to hone the ability of the two navies to operate together. Said a spokesperson for the Indian Navy: “With the presence of the CSG in the Indian Ocean, the ongoing exercise affords an excellent opportunity to engage over the entire spectrum of maritime operations, including anti-submarine warfare, and anti-air and anti-surface warfare.”

The Indian Navy spokesperson added that regular interaction between the two navies over the years “has augmented their professional content, interoperability and adaptability in the ever-changing security scenario”. He further stated that “the inter-operability achieved over the years has ensured a quantum jump in the complexity and scale of professional exchanges which is being further enhanced by the presence of the Royal Navy’s CSG in the Indian Ocean”.

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