Ships of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) arrived at Visakhapatnam on Friday after an intense sea phase of Singapore India Bilateral Maritime Exercise (SIMBEX) in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.
Ships, submarines and aircraft of India and Singapore undertook multi-dimensional exercises at sea at a high degree of complexity. After the initial harbor phase at Port Blair, the exercises witnessed action at sea and have now shifted gears to the second harbor phase at Visakhapatnam which is home to the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) of the Indian Navy.
SIMBEX has marked its silver jubilee and is currently underway. This year, the exercises are being conducted in four phases, two each in the harbor at Port Blair and Visakhapatnam and two sea phases in the Bay of Bengal. Few in 1994 would have predicted that the maiden basic Anti-Submarine Warfare exercises that were held that year between Navies of India and Singapore would transform into high-level maritime exercises in the years to come and sustain itself for a quarter of a century.
The first phase of the 25th edition of SIMBEX has already witnessed over a dozen ships and submarines and never seen before a number of weapon firings at sea.
The action now shifts to the harbor activities at Visakhapatnam before they kick off the intensive second phase of the exercise. In addition to the number of operational conferences toward planning and preparing for the final phase phase scheduled from November 19-21, friendly Volleyball and Basketball matches would also be played between the two navies.
The highlight of the sporting activity is the participation of personnel from RSN in the Vizag-Navy Marathon on November 18 off RK Beach. It is a signature event in Andhra Pradesh and Visakhapatnam's largest community event with participants from armed forces, corporate sector, government sector, educational institutions including international participants. The event attracts large-scale tourist population for participation from various states and countries. Personnel from the RSN would be participating in the 10K Friendship Run.
To mark the silver jubilee of SIMBEX, Naval Chiefs from both the participating countries would also be in Visakhapatnam. Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy hosted Rear Admiral Lew Chuen Hong, Chief of Navy of the RSN at the SIMBEX Silver Jubilee Dinner on November 18.
On November 19, meanwhile, the Silver Jubilee Commemoration Ceremony would be held at Naval Dockyard, Visakhapatnam. The event will witness the unveiling of the SIMBEX logo, and release of commemorative Indian Special Postage Cover and Singapore Postage Stamp.
Earlier in June this year, the Prime Ministers of both India and Singapore, at the sidelines of the Shangri La Dialogue held in Singapore, had remarked that they looked forward to the 25th and enhanced edition of the annual SIMBAB exercise naval bilateral.
The final phase of the exercises is scheduled to begin on November 19 and will be marked by the presence of Defense Ministers of both India and Singapore. This, in fact, would be the first such occasion, when such high-level ministerial level presence from both countries would take place.
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