India-Sri Lanka navies begin maritime exercise SLINEX-20             

New Delhi (NVI): The eighth edition of the annual maritime exercise between Indian and Sri Lankan navies – SLINEX-20- begins today. The naval exercise is being conducted from October 19 to 21 off Trincomalee in Sri Lanka.

In the four-day naval exercise, the Sri Lanka Navy will be represented by SLN Ships Sayura (Offshore Patrol Vessel) and Gajabahu(Training Ship) led by Rear Admiral Bandara Jayathilaka, the Flag Officer Commanding Naval Fleet, Sri Lanka Navy, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

On the other hand, the Indian Navy will be represented by indigenously built ASW corvettes Kamorta and Kiltan under the command of Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet.

In addition to this, the Indian Navy Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and Chetak helicopter embarked onboard Indian Naval ships, and Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft will also be participating. The previous edition of SLINEX was conducted off Visakhapatnam in September 2019, MoD said.

SLINEX-20 aims to enhance inter-operability, improve mutual understanding and exchange best practices and procedures for multi-faceted maritime operations between both navies.

The exercise will also showcase capabilities of indigenously constructed Indian naval ships and aircraft. Surface and anti-air exercises including weapon firing, seamanship evolutions, manoeuvres and cross deck flying operations are planned during the exercise, which will further enhance the high degree of inter-operability already established between the two friendly navies.

SLINEX series of exercise exemplifies the deep engagement between India and Sri Lanka which has strengthened mutual cooperation in the maritime domain. Interaction between the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian Navy has also grown significantly in recent years, in consonance with India’s policy of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and Hon’ble PM’s vision of ‘Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR)’, the  Ministry said.

Synergy developed during SLINEX exercises resulted in seamless coordination of joint SLN – IN efforts in September 2020 to render assistance to MT New Diamond, a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), which had caught fire off the East Coast of Sri Lanka.

The exercise is being conducted in a non-contact ‘at-sea-only’ format in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defence Ministry said.

-ARK