The Indian and Australian Navies are all set to undertake a joint Passage Exercise (abbreviated as “PASSEX”) from 23rd to 24th September in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
This exercise is the third since June amid heightened tensions with China, the first being with the USS Nimitz, and second with the Russian Navy earlier this month when Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh was on a visit to Moscow.
According to reports, the PASSEX will involve the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Hobart, and the Indian Navy’s INS Sahyadri and INS Karmuk. Maritime Patrol aircraft and helicopters from both sides are also expected take part.
The exercise “reflects the growing strength of Indo-Australian bilateral relations as comprehensive strategic partners, particularly in defence cooperation in the maritime domain,” said the Indian Navy’s statement.
“The exercise, which is in keeping with the strong bond shared by the two navies, would be another step towards strengthening Indo-Australia defence relations and the continued efforts of both Governments to work closely to enhance safety and security of the global commons in accordance with international regulations,” it added.
The two navies have been conducting biennial naval exercises in the Indian Ocean called AUSINDEX, the latest of which happened in 2019, focused on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW).
“The exercise, aimed at enhancing interoperability, improving understanding, and imbibing best practices from each other, would involve advanced surface and anti-air exercises including weapon firings, seamanship exercises, naval manoeuvres and Cross Deck Flying Operations,” said the Indian Navy.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exercise would be conducted strictly as a non-contact activity, which will not involve any physical contact among the personnel involved from both sides and taking all precautionary measures.
The HMAS Hobart is an air-warfare/guided-missile destroyer and was commissioned on 23rd September 2017. Its Indian counterpart, the INS Sahyadri, is a Shivalik-class stealth frigate and commissioned on 21st July 2012. The third ship taking part in the exercise is the Indian Navy’s INS Karmuk, which is a Kora-class guided missile corvette and was commissioned on 4th February 2004.