Special Correspondent, Dhaka, 3 October: India and Bangladesh started a three-day naval exercise in the northern Bay of Bengal on Saturday, according to diplomatic and defence sources.
Bangladesh defence officials described the engagement as a coordinated maritime patrol along the international maritime boundary line by warships of the two counties.
Two officials of Bangladesh Navy headquarters and Inter Services Public Relations Directorate and a diplomatic source in New Delhi confirmed about holding of the exercise and patrol.
Bangladesh has deployed two warships — BNS Abu Bakr, a guided-missile frigate, and BNS Prottoy, a guided-missile corvette — in the exercise, a Bangladesh Navy official said on Friday evening.
India has deployed two warships — INS Kiltan, an anti-submarine warfare corvette, and INS Khukri, a guided-missile corvette — as well as maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters in the exercise, according to a Times of India report with reference to Indian Navy.
It is the second edition of naval exercise in the northern Bay of Bengal. The first of its kind was held in 2019.
‘The aim of the exercise is to develop interoperability and joint operational skills through conducting a wide spectrum of maritime exercises and operations,’ Indian Navy spokesperson commander Vivek Madhwal said.
‘The exercise will include surface warfare drills, seamanship evolutions and helicopter operations among other things,’ he said.
‘Conducting such coordinated patrolling will strengthen the understanding between the two navies. Besides, measures will be taken to stop illegal activities in the region,’ said the Indian official.
The Outlook India described it as a mega naval exercise.
India had steadily stepped-up military ties with Bangladesh, which ‘incidentally acquired’ its first-ever diesel-electric submarines from China couple of years ago, Times of India report said.
India, on its part, has been trying to counter Chinese inroads into its neighbourhood, ranging from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius to Myanmar to Nepal, according to Indian report.
Bangladesh has allowed India, under an agreement, to establish a coastal surveillance radar system along its own coastline and keep an eye on the shared Indo-Bangla coast.
The agreement was signed between the two countries during the official visit of prime minister Sheikh Hasina to India in October, 2019.