Singapore and India held another iteration of their annual maritime bilateral exercise last week.
From October 31 to November 5, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Indian Navy (IN) conducted the 23rd iteration of the Singapore-Indian Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) which first began back in 1994. As with others of its ilk, the exercise has gradually grown in scope and complexity, beginning with an emphasis on anti-submarine warfare but then also including elements like maritime security and anti-air and anti-surface warfare.
SIMBEX 2016 was hosted by the IN, with the land phase held at Visakhapatnam Naval Base in India, while the sea phase was held in the Bay of Bengal. The exercise itself involved a series of naval warfare serials, including air defense exercises, anti-submarine exercises, and gunnery live-firings, according to a statement by Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF).
In terms of assets, the RSN deployed a stealth frigate, RSS Formidable, and a Republic of Singapore Air Force Fokker-50 maritime patrol aircraft. The IN, meanwhile, participated with a destroyer, INS Ranvijay, embarked with an Alouette III helicopter; a corvette, INS Kamorta; a Kilo-class submarine; two Hawk aircraft; and two maritime patrol aircraft.
Colonel Aaron Beng, RSN commanding officer of the 185 Squadron who was in India to visit the Eastern Naval Command, said that SIMBEX 2016 would reinforce the strong and longstanding defense ties between the two navies, which also interact through other activities such as exchange programs, staff talks, and training courses.
“This exercise will strengthen the strong and long-standing bonds between our two navies, enhancing interoperability as well as mutual understanding and trust between our sailors,” he said, according to MINDEF.
SIMBEX is just one part of a growing defense relationship between India and Singapore. In June, the two countries held their first ever defense ministers’ dialogue ahead of the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier security forum, which is annually held in Singapore. As I detailed then, the dialogue was part of a revised Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) inked as they commemorated the 50th anniversary of their defense relationship during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last November (See: “Singapore, India Hold First Defense Ministers’ Dialogue”).
The DCA – an upgraded version of the one inked in 2003 –also included deeper cooperation on maritime security and further collaboration between their defense industries.