The Indian Navy has said in statement, “The Indian Navy’s Task Force’s deployed to Europe from May ’09 returned to home waters after a two month deployment westwards. The task force sailing under the command of the Flag-Officer-Commanding, Western Fleet Rear Admiral Surinder Pal Singh Cheema, comprised the destroyer INS Delhi, the frigates INS Brahmaputra and Beas, and the replenishment ship INS Aditya.”
The four ships reached Portsmouth on June 17 staying till June 20.
The four ships participated in the joint Indo-UK naval exercise Konkan from June 20 to June 25, held south of the British Isles in the Atlantic. The British Royal Navy fielded two guided missile frigates, the HMS Westminster and the HMS Lancaster, a nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) HMS Trafalgar, two Royal Fleet Auxiliaries (RFAs) (supply ships) the RFA Fort Rosalie and RFA Mounts Bay. The Royal Navy also fielded ship-borne rotary wing aircraft, the Merlin and Lynx in addition to assets of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Fleet Air Arm, which also included the Nimrod and Hawk aircraft.
The British participants were commanded by Commodore Simon Ancona.
“The Royal Navy has this interesting concept of RFAs. These ships are not part of the navy and are manned by a mixture of civilian and naval personnel,” one naval officer told StratPost.
Konkan 2009 included drills involving special operations, especially focusing on EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) diving, surface warfare and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations. “The British are very, very good at ASW operations. They’re probably better at it than the US Navy. So it’s always good to be part of an exercise where you can see them do their thing. Also, those seas have different waters, different hydrologies and different shipping densities. So it’s a good learning experience practicing our own tactics there as well as engaging with the British,” said the naval officer to StratPost.
The Indian Navy says that after four such exercises in Indian waters, Konkan-09 is the first to be conducted in British waters.
The Indian Naval Ships arrived at Brest in France, docking there from the June 27 to June 30, after which the four ships participated in the joint Indo-French naval exercise Varuna, which ended on July 4.
Again, after seven years of bilateral exercises, this is the first time Varuna has been conducted out of Indian waters, off the coast of Brittany.
On the French side assets placed under CECLANT’s command (the Admiral Commanding Atlantic Ocean Zone), notably the destroyer Primauguet with a helicopter, the frigate Lieutenant de Vaisseau Le Hanaff and the nuclear powered attack submarine (SSN) Emeraude. The French Navy also fielded Atlantique, Nimrod, Lynx, Super Etendard and Rafale aircraft.
Significantly, the two navies have been involved in coordinated anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
Crew were exchanged with both the navies. Wherein IN crew embarked on RN/FN ships and vice versa.