Port Wings News Network:
A joint Search and Rescue exercise named SAREX-18 was conducted in the Bay of Bengal off Chennai on 17 January between Indian and Japan Coast Guard.
A total of nine ICG Ships besides eight aircraft participated in the exercise. Other stakeholders like the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and NIOT also pooled in their resources.
According to a media statement, the exercise is a part of the ongoing joint exercises between the Coast Guards of the two countries during the last seven years.
A memorandum on cooperation between Indian Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard was signed in 2006. The exercise focused towards acquainting the Coast Guards with each other’s capabilities and strengthening their working level relationship and further refine joint operating procedures.
The exercise was witnessed by Director General Rajendra Singh, Director General Indian Coast Guard and Admiral Satoshi Nakajima, Commandant Japan Coast Guard. The exercise was also witnessed by a delegation from Japan Coast Guard, International observers from 17 countries and members of National Maritime Search and Rescue Board. Inspector General Rajan Bargotra, Commander Coast Guard Region (East), conducted the exercise.
The Indian Coast Guard fleet consisting of nine ships namely Sarang, Sagar, Shaurya, Vaibhav, Anagh, Rani Abbakka, Abheek, C-431, C-432, three each Dornier and Chetak helicopter along with Japan Coast Guard ship Tsugaru with integrated helo participated in the exercise.
The highlights of the exercise encompassed the scenario of the hijacking of a cruise vessel and subsequent mass rescue of the passengers in a joint Coast Guard operation of both the countries. Operation of Indian Coast Guard helicopters from Japan Coast Guard ship and vice versa, Cross Deck Landing, Interdiction of Pirate Vessel, Cross Boarding, SAR Demonstration and External Fire Fighting were the other highlights of the exercise. In addition the Coast Guard ships and aircraft demonstrated their prowess before the Japanese delegation. The exercise culminated with an impressive steam past by the ships and fly past by the aircraft wherein the crew of the participating units saluted the heads of the two Coast Guards onboard ICGS Shaurya at sea.
The association of Indian and Japan Coast Guard dates back to the year 1999 where for the first time in recent maritime history a pirated ship was apprehended. The Japan flagged ship ‘MV Alondra Rainbow’ hijacked by pirates and repainted as ‘MV Mega Rama’ was apprehended at high seas by the Indian Coast Guard in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai. The incident being a precedent in itself received worldwide coverage.