New Delhi: As part of its move to boost maritime relations with Gulf countries, India and Oman will conduct the 12th edition of bilateral maritime exercise ‘Naseem Al Bahr’ in the Arabian Sea next month.
The scope of Naseem Al Bahr this year will include besides professional interactions, operational activities at sea across the spectrum of maritime operations.
Though the dates have not been officially announced, according to the Oman Ambassador to India Hamed Saif Al Rawahi, “the bilateral naval drill has been scheduled for next month.”
Ex-Naseem Al Bahr, initiated in 1993, symbolises the long term strategic relationship between the two countries. And this year marks 26 years of Indian Navy-Royal Navy of Oman bilateral exercises, which have matured with increasing scope, the complexity of operations and level of participation.
Oman is the first country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which has jointly been conducting bilateral exercises with India. And, according to a top naval officer, “The joint naval drill is of importance as India and Oman share the Indian Ocean. Since 2008, has been extending its support to Indian Navy’s anti-piracy missions and our Naval Ships are regularly welcomed by Oman for Overseas Deployments.”
In fact, according to the Omani envoy, in November 2018, a sailing vessel ‘Zeenat al Bihaar’ from the Royal Yachts participated with INS Tarangini and INS Sudarshini in the joint sailing voyage from Kochi to Muscat, commemorating the 10th-anniversary celebrations.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Sultanate, in an agreement signed between the two countries, Indian Navy got access to Duqm Port.
Both countries already have Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) including on defence cooperation, between the Coast Guards to prevent crime at sea, on maritime issues and a protocol between their respective air forces on Flight Safety Information Exchange.
Now, the Indian Naval ships can use the port and dry dock facility for maintenance of naval ships. Getting access to the Duqm Port is vital for India to enhance its naval activities in the Indian Ocean and help in addressing India’s maritime security concerns such as piracy in the Arabian Sea region.
While the Indian Navy has been deploying mobile training teams in Oman on an annual basis for training of the naval personnel of that country, for maritime security, the Hydrographic cooperation between the two countries is very important.