Admiral RK Dhowan, the Chief of Naval Staff shall be proceeding on a five day visit to Singapore (20 -22 Jul) and Thailand (23 – 25 Jul). These visits are aimed at further consolidating the Navy to Navy cooperation and explore future avenues in further strengthening the relationship in accordance with India’s ‘Act East policy’.
Singapore Visit. During the Singapore visit the CNS is scheduled to meet various dignitaries, notably the Defence Minister, Chief of Defence Forces and the Chief of Navy. Admiral Dhowan will also visit the prestigious Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute (SAFTI MI) for interaction with the faculty as well as young and middle level officers. An overview of the operational facilities at Changi Naval base is also planned besides briefings on International Data Fusion Centre (IFC), Maritime Crisis Centre, Regional Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR) Coordination Centre (RHCC) and Maritime Security Task Force looking after coastal security of Singapore.
India Singapore relations date back to Cholas who are credited with naming the Island and establishing a permanent settlement. In modern times, India was amongst the first countries to set up diplomatic relations after the independence of Singapore in 1965. The present engagements between the two countries span regular high level interactions including comprehensive defence cooperation.
Navy to Navy cooperation between the two countries covers almost the entire spectrum of naval operations. Bilateral exercise between the two navies started way back in 1994 and has matured into an all encompassing SIMBEX (Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise). SIMBEX 15 was recently held in South China Sea in May 15 wherein ships and maritime patrol aircraft from both navies participated.
Thailand Visit. The Chief of Naval Staff Admiral RK Dhowan shall also visit Thailand from 23 to 25 Jul 15 with an aim of reviewing and furthering the existing maritime cooperation at the highest level.
During his visit, the CNS is scheduled to interact with the Defence Minister, Chief of Defence Forces, Commander-in-Chief of Royal Thai Navy. Major areas being considered for furthering cooperation between the navies include hydrography, developing comprehensive Maritime Domain Awareness through exchange of White Shipping information, increasing scope of coordinated patrolling among other such areas.
India and Thailand located in each other’s extended neighborhood, share a maritime boundary in the Andaman Sea. India’s bilateral relations with Thailand are rooted in age old social and cultural interactions and extensive people to people contact. The shared links of Buddhism is reflected in regular pilgrimage to places of interest in India by a large number of Thai people. Thai language has substantial Pali and Sanskrit influence.
Over the past two decades, with regular political exchanges, growing trade and investment, India’s relationship with Thailand has now evolved into a comprehensive partnership. India’s ‘Act East' policy has been complemented by Thailand’s ‘Look West’ policy and has assisted in bringing the two countries together.
The Navy to Navy cooperation is the leading component of the defence cooperation between the two countries. Indian Navy regularly interacts with Royal Thailand Navy through Navy to Navy Staff Talks. Both Navies also interact in multilateral fora such as Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), MILAN held biennially at Port Blair. Indian Navy and Thai Navy conduct Coordinated Patrolling (CORPAT) across International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) twice a year. Exchange of best practices and experiences and cooperation in Meteorology / Tsunami warning is another area wherein both navies cooperate.