Navies of India, Singapore start SIMBEX bilateral exercise in southern South China Sea

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Indian Navy Ships INS Ranvijay and INS Kavaratti anchored during the 30th Edition of the Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) on Wednesday.

Indian Navy Ships INS Ranvijay and INS Kavaratti anchored during the 30th Edition of the Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) on Wednesday.
| Photo Credit: ANI

Navies of India and Singapore have begun a week-long bilateral maritime exercise, SIMBEX, in the southern parts of the South China Sea for which the two countries have deployed a submarine each.

Indian Navy’s Rajput-class destroyer INS Ranvijay, Kamorta-class corvette INS Kavaratti, and a P-8I maritime patrol aircraft are taking part in the three-decade-old annual exercise which began on Thursday.

Warships from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) taking part in the exercise include the two Formidable-class frigates RSS Stalwart and RSS Tenacious.

At the opening ceremony of the bilateral exercise, RSN’s Fleet Commander Colonel (COL) Kwan Hon Chuong and India’s Eastern Naval Command Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Vice Admiral Rajesh Pendharkar unveiled the commemorative logo of its 30th edition.

COL Kwan highlighted the importance of the exercise in enhancing professionalism between the navies of the two countries.

“SIMBEX stands as a shining testament to the enduring partnership between the IN and RSN. Over the course of three decades, this exercise has evolved from its modest inception into a robust platform that not only strengthens our operational capabilities but also nurtures the bonds of friendship connecting our sailors,” he said.

RSN’s two warships will be accompanied by an S-70B naval helicopter and the Victory-class missile corvette RSS Valour, the Defence Ministry (Mindef) said in a statement.

SIMBEX is conducted in two phases. The land phase of the exercise will involve table-top exercises and planning discussions while the sea phase will see the navies engage in various naval drills, including anti-submarine warfare and live weapon firing.

SIMBEX 2023 comprises a shore phase (21 to 24 September) held at RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base, and a sea phase (25 to 28 September) in the southern reaches of the South China Sea in international waters.

During the shore phase, sailors from both navies will conduct joint planning, professional exchanges and sports activities. The two navies will also sign a submarine rescue joint standard operating procedures (JSOP) document.

At sea, both navies will conduct a series of naval serials in the air, surface and underwater domains, including gunnery firing, air defence, anti-submarine, communication and manoeuvring exercises. The exercise will conclude with a sail-past of participating ships.

First held in 1994, SIMBEX has grown both in scope and complexity over the years, expanding beyond conventional naval warfare to include elements of maritime security. Apart from SIMBEX, the two navies interact regularly through a range of activities, including professional exchanges, staff talks and training courses.

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