The 2010 edition of the SIMBEX series of annual bilateral exercises between the Indian Navy and the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) was conducted in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal. SIMBEX is an acronym for Singapore-Indian Maritime Bilateral Exercise.
The bilateral naval cooperation was formalised when RSN ships began training in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) with the Indian Navy in 1994. Most of these exercises were held off Kochi. In 2005, the bilateral exercise was held for the first time in South China Sea in the waters off Singapore. Over the years, the exercises have reflected a growth in strength, capability and mutual confidence of both navies. They have graduated from purely training-oriented ASW exercises to complex exercises involving multiple facets of operations at sea. The successive editions of SIMBEX have incorporated a wide range of sea-going serials, ranging from platform-specific exercises in damage control and fire-fighting through visit, board, search and seizure procedures to multi-threat scenarios. Both navies derive tremendous value from these exercises. This year's exercise was the seventh in the SIMBEX series. The operational relationship between the two navies has matured to a point where Standard Operating Procedures (formulated in 2006) are well in place on both the sides.
For SIMBEX 2010, the Indian Navy fielded its frontline units INS Ranvir, Jyoti, Kora, Mahish, Nirbhik, Nishank and Batti Malv from the Eastern Fleet and Andaman & Nicobar Command. This was in addition to a submarine as well as fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The Republic of Singapore Navy participated with its frigate, Intrepid and missile corvette, Victory. The RSN ships made a port-call at Port Blair and visited Visakhapatnam for the harbour phase of the exercise.
The interaction between the Armed Forces of the two countries has been historic. After the British decided in 1971 to withdraw their military forces from East of Suez, Singapore has been the steadfast partner of India on the maritime front. RSN and the Indian Navy share a long-standing relationship with regular professional interactions which include exchange programmes, staff-talks and cross-attendance at courses. The RSN also participates in the Milan series multilateral exercises which are held at Port Blair. SIMBEX is an important outflow of this comprehensive process of bilateral engagement within the maritime domain.
As SIMBEX-10 drew to a close and the ships of both the navies returned to harbour for a final summing-up of the exercise, in a related visit to the Eastern Naval Command, the RSN Fleet Commander, Rear Admiral Joseph Leong arrived Visakhapatnam. The Flag Officer, accompanied by Colonel Glam Hock Koon Tan Kai Hoe, Commanding Officer 185 Squadron of the RSN, called on Vice Admiral Anup Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command. The Indian Navy has expressed satisfaction over the level of mutual confidence and inter-operability that has been achieved through these exercises.
-Cdr TLP Babu