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Indian Navy to host Presidential Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam to mark 75th year of Independence

NEW DELHI (PTI):  The Presidential Fleet Review, to be hosted by the Navy in Visakhapatnam on February 21, will also commemorate India's 75th year of Independence, and will be followed by its largest-ever multilateral naval exercise MILAN.

The US and Russia are likely to participate in the biennial multilateral naval exercise, sources said.

According to the official website of MILAN, invitation has been sent to 46 countries, including, France, Iran, Bangladesh, the US, the UK, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

Indian Navy sources said that over 45 countries have been extended invitation to take part in MILAN 2022, and the response has been very "positive and encouraging" and "delegations and warships from a large number of friendly foreign countries are expected to participate" in it.

Asked if the US, Russia are participating in the exercise, sources only said, many "big countries" will be there.

The Harbour Phase of the exercise will be held from February 25-28, which would allow participating navies to discuss maritime subjects of common concern and share solutions.

The professional competitions and conferences planned during this phase shall build the operational tempo for the Sea Phase planned from March 1-4. This phase would be utilised to consolidate upon the lessons learnt during harbour interactions and to build upon the experience of operating together at sea, the MILAN's official website states.

MILAN hosted by India made a modest beginning in the Andaman hand Nicobar Islands in 1995 with participation of four littoral navies, it said.

The site for the 2022 edition of the multilateral naval exercise is the coastal city of Visakhapatnam, being shifted for the first time from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with sources saying, "As the exercise has grown much larger in scale, more sea room was needed, and Vizag coast gives ample room".

MILAN 2022 is the eleventh edition of the event and would be held under the aegis of Eastern Naval Command.

Indian Navy said Visakhapatnam -- the 'City of Destiny' -- will also be hosting the Presidential Fleet Review later this month with 60-odd ships set to take part in it.

"The Presidential Fleet Review this year at Visakhapatnam is special, as it will also commemorate 75th year of India's Independence. The theme of PFR 2022 is 'Indian Navy -- 75 Years on Service of the Nation'," the Navy said.

A special logo for the august event, considered next to the Republic Day Parade on Rajpath in Delhi, was unveiled earlier and it showcases Indian Navy's prowess in all three dimensions and aptly depicts the theme of the ceremonial event.

The first PFR was held in 1953 when President Rajendra Prasad, riding the 'Presidential Yacht', had been saluted by the men of the Indian Navy off the coast of Bombay (now Mumbai).

A Fleet Review is usually conducted once during the tenure of the President. Post-Independence, till date, 11 Presidential Fleet Reviews (PFRs) have been conducted by the Indian Navy, of which two have been International Fleet Reviews (IFRs) -- in 2001 and 2016, the Navy said.

"A Naval Fleet Review is a long-standing tradition followed by navies all across the world. It is indeed a strong bond which links seafarers of the world. Historically, a Fleet Review is an assembly of ships at a pre-designated place for the purpose of displaying loyalty and allegiance to the Sovereign and the State. In turn, the Sovereign, by reviewing the ships, reaffirms his faith in the fleet and its ability to defend the nation's maritime interest," it said.

The idea of a review was perhaps conceived as a show of naval might. Though it still has the same connotation, "assembling of warships without any belligerent intentions" is now the norm in modern times, the sources said.

As part of the PFR, all participating units, which include Indian Naval warships, submarines, auxiliary vessels as also assets of other maritime organisations such as Coast Guard, Shipping Corporation of India, and National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), will be anchored in a formation of four precise columns.

About 40 ships will be at anchorage, the sources said.

The year 2022 being the 75th year of Independence, invites have been extended to resident defence attaches of all friendly foreign countries for PFR, the Navy said.

Sources said several former Navy chiefs and many ministers are also expected to attend the event.

The official website of MILAN says this biennial congregation of friendly navies over the last two and a half decades has "progressively grown in magnitude" with the previous edition in 2018 being attended by 17 countries.

The next edition was to be earlier hosted in 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is now taking place in 2022 at Visakhapatnam.

MILAN exercise had started with the participation of only four countries, viz Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and it has transitioned "leaps and bounds since then in terms of number of participants and complexity of exercises," the Navy said.

The exercise is being held on the mainland for the first time. India is celebrating the 75th year of its Independence in 2022 and MILAN 22 would provide an opportunity to commemorate this milestone with our friends and partners. The theme of the MILAN exercise is Camaraderie - Cohesion - Collaboration' which aims to promote collective responsibilities of maritime security for ensuring safe and secure seas, it added.

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