India, Indonesia Tighten Relations After Sabang Port Deal With Bilateral Naval Exercise

The India-Indonesia relations has been upgraded to ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ when Indian PM Narendra Modi visited Indonesia earlier this year. Now both India and Indonesia will participate in the first ever Bilateral Naval Exercise ‘ Samudra Shakti’.

Besides the maritime security, defence cooperation has been a significant pillar in this partnership. Both nations have been working towards expanding their military ties. Indian Naval assets have been increasingly deployed to address maritime concerns of the Indian Ocean Region.

INS Rana of the Eastern Fleet based at Visakhapatnam under the Eastern Naval Command is on deployment to South East Asia and arrived at the port of Surabaya to participate in the inaugural exercise between the two navies starting Nov 12-18 ‘Samudra Shakti’.

According to the official spokesperson of the Indian Navy Capt DK Sharma, “The aim of the exercise is to strengthen bilateral relations, expand maritime co-operation, enhance interoperability and exchange best practices.”

The exercise has started with a Harbour Phase involving planning and briefing on various activities, intercommunications, cross deck visits, sports fixtures and social interactions. Then from Nov 16, it would progress to a Sea Phase scheduled and would include activities like Joint Manoeuvres, Helicopter Operations, Surface Warfare exercise and Anti Piracy exercises.

The purpose of this exercise is to promote India’s support to Indonesia towards securing good order in the maritime domain and boosting existing bonds between the Indian and Indonesian navies.

Earlier, Indonesia permitted India to invest in Sabang port, which is located near the strategic and vital shipping channel – the Strait of Malacca. From an economic and strategic outlook, the Strait of Malacca is considered as one of the most important shipping lanes in the world. The Strait of Malacca is the primary shipping lane between the Indian and the Pacific Ocean which links major powers like China, Japan, India, South Korea, Malaysia etc. Close to 100,00 vessels pass through it every year making it the busiest strait in the world.

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