New Delhi: The maiden edition of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Maritime Exercise 2022 (IMEX-22) was conducted at Goa and in Arabian Sea from March 26 – 30, 2022. The aim of the exercise was to enhance interoperability in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations among member navies. The exercise witnessed participation of 16 out of the 25 member nations of IONS.
The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), established in 2007, is a premier forum for cooperation and collaboration among navies of littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region. The forum has enabled discussions on regional maritime issues, promoted friendly relationships, and significantly improved maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region.
IMEX – 22 comprised a Harbour Phase at Mormugao Port, Goa from March 26 to March 27 followed by a Sea Phase in the Arabian Sea from March 28 to March 30. The participation included warships, Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft and helicopters from the Navies of Bangladesh, France, India and Iran.
Twenty two (22) Observers from 15 IONS member navies, namely Australia, Bangladesh, France, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, UAE and UK also participated in the exercise. The participants validated the IONS HADR guidelines and developed response mechanisms for providing HADR from sea to shore as well as for rendering assistance to ships and crafts in distress at sea. The Chiefs of Indian and French Navies witnessed exercises during the sea phase of IMEX – 22 and also attended the post exercise debrief.
IMEX 22 aimed to develop the IONS capability to efficiently and effectively coordinate amongst member nations the ability to address a HADR contingency, coordinate the operations, build upon the individual strengths & develop interoperability in critical areas such as Search & Rescue operations, cross deck operations of helos, medical support, diving expertise & seamless communications.
IMEX 22 saw a significant number & wide variety of participating units – Amphibious Assault Ship, Frigates, Fleet Support Ship, Destroyer, Landing Ship Tank & various aviation assets – ship borne & shore based helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.
The exercise is seen as a significant stepping stone for regional navies to collaborate and respond collectively to natural disasters in the region and paves way for further strengthening regional cooperation.