Port Blair, February 9, 2014
As many as 15 ships from different countries manoeuvred in perfect harmony in the Andaman Sea to bring Milan 2014, a biennial exercise of Navies, to a close here this morning.
After a few manouvers at sea, the ships formed up in a column and steamed past the flag ship with men manning the side of the ship and presenting a traditional salute in the form of “man and cheer ship” to the presiding officer, the Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN), Air Marshal PK Roy.
As many as 17 nations, including India, had participated in Milan 2014, making it the biggest edition since its inception in 1995.
The event started on February 4 and the last six days saw the maritime foces of these nations come closer professionally and building confidence in interoperability.
It was the first time that countries from the western Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) participated, including two African nations, Kenya and Tanzania, and island nations of Mauritius, Maldives and Seychelles. It was also the first time that the Philippines and Cambodia participated.
The six days of engagement included an International Seminar on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), with participating nations like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar and Philippines sharing lessons from their recent first hand experiences in handling disasters such as cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis.
In his keynote address, the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral D K Joshi, emphasized the need for developing capacity and procedures based on common principles and considerations. He stated that ‘Rapid Deployment’, Co-ordination, Logistics and Medical Aid are cardinal considerations for founding common procedures for HADR operations.
He expressed appreciation for the concerted efforts to enhance HADR co-operation and training in the region, such as ADMMPlusHADR exercise hosted by Brunei in June 2013 and Exercise Komodo, being hosted by Indonesia, next month, and stated that this seminar and the Table-Top exercise, being conducted under the aegis of Milan would contribute to these efforts.
He also mentioned that work is in progress towards developing a Standard Operating Procedure for HADR under the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).The proceedings of the seminar focused on ‘Maritime Cooperation for Disaster Preparedness and Response’, ‘Capacity Building for Coordinated HADR Operations’ and ‘Mechanisms for Sharing of Best Practices through fora such as Milan and IONS’.
A table top exercise on HADR called “Rahat” was conducted on February 8 in which delegates from the participating nations/ships were presented with a topical situation on HADR operations.
Delegates grouped into multinational teams evolved a combined response to the eventuality and various options were analysed during the course of the exercise. This was followed by a discussion on various key issues like preparedness and response strategies for maritime forces in those regions prone to disasters, Logistics management issues, strategies for HADR kits and supply chain management of relief stores and regional cooperation between maritime forces during HADR operations.
As different nations have evolved their own mechanisms and procedures for conduct of such operations a substantial gain was accrued from sharing these experiences and expertise.The exercise was a milestone step towards enhancing the confidence levels for cooperating and building the framework for establishing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for such operations.
Milan, with its emphasis on building friendship and understanding between personnel at the tactical level, also presented ample opportunities for the sailors to build personal bonds and friendships through a food festival, cultural programmes and sports activities. It was the first time that Milan included a jungle survival drill and a special sporting event in the form of a triathlon.
Yesterday afternoon saw the Marine Drive in Port Blair transformed into a colourful and festive site during the International City Parade. The local public turned up in massive numbers on the entire stretch of the Marine Drive.
The parade showcased the rich heritage of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and gave the audience a glimpse of Indian culture and the Armed Forces.
In addition to a fly past by aircraft of the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force, the parade included an operational demonstration of the Indian Navy involving covert operations by the Marine Commandos and a SAR demo.
A sky diving display by the Akash Ganga Sky Diving team of the Indian Air Force also enthralled the audience. The march past had contingents of the Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, and the Indian Coast Guard, along with military bands and contingents from the foreign ships participating in Milan 2014.
Countries which participated in Milan 2014 included Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand.
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