PANAJI: The French navy`s nuclear-propelled aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will participate in a week-long joint exercise with the Indian Navy off Goa from Friday. The Indian Navy will be fielding it aircraft carrier INS Viraat.
The bilateral exercise - Varuna 10 - will see destroyers, frigates, tankers and submarines from both sides participating, a navy spokesperson said.
ON BOARD INS VIRAAT: The eleventh annual bilateral exercise between the Indian and French Navies has begun off Mormugao, with the Harbour Phase of `Varuna 2010` entering its second day on Saturday.
Though scheduled between January 7 and 14, 2011, the exercise has retained last year`s date as it was previously scheduled for December 2010. The Sea Phase of the ongoing exercise is expected to commence on Janu-ary 11.
Addressing reporters onboard the INS Viraat, Rear Admiral R K Pat-tanaik, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, Indian Navy, said, `The Indian Navy has done such exercises with all the Navies, except the Pakistani Navy. If they are interested in such interoperability activities they will be welcomed.`
Explaining the scope of such exercises, he said, `The Varuna exercises include the entire gamut of maritime operations-from aircraft carrier operations to anti-submarine warfare exercises and maritime interdiction op-erations. The understanding and confidence gained through such exercises helps during international antipiracy operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief operations.`
Asked what the last 10 exercises between the two Navies have achieved for the Indian Navy, Pattanaik said, `The interoperability is so much friendlier that in times of crisis we won`t even have to communicate with regard to operations... both the Navies will be able to function without any problems.`
Rear Admiral Jean-Louis Kerignard of the French Navy, on the other hand, said, `The target of these exercises is to achieve freedom of naviga-tion and to see, learn, and transform from each other. This is why in the Second Phase of `Varuna 2010` sailors of the Indian and French Navies will be mixed.`
He added, `Regular Indian Navy-French Navy interactions over the years have allowed both sides to gradually and systematically increase the complexity and professional content.`
For this bilateral exercise, 300 officials and 3,000 plus personnel are participating. The French Navy has its newly inducted FNS Forbin Destroyer as part of its Carrier Strike Group, which also includes the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, FNS Tourville and supply ship FNS Meuse.
PORT BLAIR: Indian naval divers on Wednesday began joint exercises with their American counterparts off Port Blair in the Andaman Sea.
The Indian Navy`s survey ship INS Nireekshak, and USS Safeguard, a specialised salvage vessel, are participating in the exercise.
The aim of the exercise is to strengthen capability in niche techniques associated with diving and salvage.
During the weeklong exercise, various specialist salvage techniques will be practiced jointly by divers of both navies.
Among the notable salvage techniques to be demonstrated are operation of underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and side scan sonasrs launched from the USS Safeguard and demonstration of hot tap equipment - used for removing fuel from the tanks of sunken vessels.
During Operation SALVEX, the divers will also hone their salvage skills on a `Mud Monster`, a pontoon specially built and sunk to practice salvage and diving exercises.
The maiden IN-USN SALVEX was conducted in 2005. SALVEX series of exercises have been conducted annually thereafter alternately in India and in US Pacific locations.
Interestingly in the first SALVEX a vintage Sea Hawk fighter aircraft was recovered from a depth of about 50 metres off Kochi. IN Salvage teams have also recovered a Seaking helicopter from a depth of 70 metres in the past.
INS Nireekshak is the Indian Navy`s specialist diving support ship with the capacity to support dives upto 300 metres depth. USS Safeguard is a Safeguard class auxilliary rescue and salvage ship.
In this edition of SALVEX, the Indian Navy`s team comprises 17 Clearance Divers including two officers and the US Navy`s team comprises 15 divers including two officers.
Indian Navy`s divers have time and again demonstrated their diving professionalism by rescue of men and salvage of material in adverse and treachorous conditions in waters as varied as fast flowing rivers, freezing lakes and ponds and waters with virtually nil visibility. (ANI)