New Delhi: Navies of India and France Wednesday began the first phase of a mega naval exercise off the coast of Goa which is aimed at developing inter-operability between the the two forces in dealing with various security challenges.
The first part of the joint naval exercise, 'Varuna', is being held from May 1-10 off the Goa coast, while the second phase is scheduled for later this month in strategically located Djibouti, Navy officials said.
French Navy's aircraft carrier FNS Charles de Gaulle, two destroyers, FNS Forbin and FNS Provence, frigate FNS Latouche-Treville, tanker FNS Marne and a nuclear submarine will participate at the exercise, they said.
From the Indian side, aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, destroyer INS Mumbai, Teg-class frigate INS Tarkash, Shishumar-class submarine INS Shankul, and Deepak-class fleet tanker INS Deepak, will participate in the drill, they said.
The harbour phase at Goa would include professional interactions and discussions while the sea phase would comprise various drills across the spectrum of maritime operations, Indian Navy spokesperson Capt D K Sharma said. The bilateral naval exercise was initiated in 1983 and it was christened as 'Varuna' in 2001.
"Having grown in scope and complexity over the years, this exercise exemplifies the strong relations between the two nations, in line with the Joint Strategic Vision of India-French Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region," the Navy said in a statement.
It said the exercise aims at developing interoperability between the two navies and fostering mutual cooperation by learning from each other's best practices to conduct joint operations. "The exercise underscores the shared interests and commitment of both nations in promoting maritime security," said the Navy.