Vasco-da-Gama (Goa), April 25: Maritime exercises like Varu-13 between Indian and French vies have helped both the countries to combat piracy on the high seas and conduct tricky evacuation exercises like Operation Raahat, off the Yemen coast, which rescued over 5,000 Indian and foreign tiols, top officials of both the vies said on Saturday.
Flag Officer Commanding of the Indian vy’s Western Fleet Hari Kumar and Rear Admiral of the French vy Eric Chaperon were speaking to reporters aboard INS Viraat during the course of Varu-13, an ongoing India-French val exercise from April 23-May 2. The drill includes the entire gamut of maritime operations from aircraft carrier operations, anti-submarine warfare exercise and maritime interdiction operations to multi-ship replenishment exercise. “When you practice at these exercises you arrive at common procedures, common methods, how one ship can assist the other to accomplish a joint mission... So when you practice this it helps when you actually undertake an operation,” Kumar said, adding that two ships - INS Mumbai (destroyer) and INS Tarkash (frigate) - which were a part of the globally acclaimed Yemen evacuation by the Indian vy were part of Varu-13. The Indian and French fleets are docked off the coast of Vasco da Gama located in south Goa, 45 km from Paji. “INS Mumbai had come across the French ships as well (off Yemen) who were evacuating. Because they had exercised earlier, they could communicate with each other, arrive at some common operating philosophy quickly and jointly help each other in evacuation. This is one of the benefits of exercises like Varu,” Kumar said.
Both vies have been carrying out joint val exercises since 1983 and Varu is currently in its 13th edition. Apart from INS Viraat, INS Mumbai and INS Tarkash, the Indian vy is represented in the exercise by another frigate, a replenishment ship Deepak, a Shishkumar class submarine, fast attack crafts, Sea Harriers, maritime reconissance aircraft, Dorniers and Chetak helicopters. The French vy is represented by Europe’s biggest aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, two destroyers Chevailier Paul and Jean de Vienne, replenishment tanker Meuse and a maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique 2 and its aerial strike and surveillance assets which include the Rafale M, Strike Aircraft Super Etendard, E2C Hawkeye AWACS and helicopters Dauphin and Alouette 3. Rear Admiral Chaperone, commander of the warship battle group led by French nuclear powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, said val exercises between the two countries helped develop an ability to co-operate whenever the two vies collaborated in real-life scerios like anti-piracy operations and evacuations. “It has been useful for recent evacuation operation which took place off Yemen... Some of your ships have conducted evacuation of French citizens in Yemen and we have been very grateful for providing help to our country in such occasions,” Chaperone said. (IANS)