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Indo-French naval exercises begin off Goa coast

A file photo

ON BOARD INS VIRAAT, GOA (PTI): Joint exercises between the Indian and French navies began here, with its harbour phase -- 'Varuna 2010' already going on, while the sea-phase is set to begin on January 11.

The French Navy has its newly inducted FNS Forbin destroyer as a part of its Carrier Strike Group, led by aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle.

"This ship (FNS Forbin) is just inducted and this is its first deployment," Rear Admiral Jean Louis Kerignard, Commander of French Maritime Force told PTI.

The French strike group also comprises FNS Tourville, supply ship FNS Meuse and nuclear powered submarine FNS Amethyste, besides airborne early warning aircraft E2C Hawkeye.

Indian Navy has INS Viraat, indigenous frigates Godavari and Ganga, and one Shishumar class submarine Shalki participating in the exercises, which will end on January 13.

"Since 1983 Indian and French navies have been conducting bi-lateral exercises," Rear Admiral R K Patnaik, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, Indian Navy, said.

He said that such joint exercises were in the long-term interests of both the countries.

"We are progressing with every phase of the exercise," Patnaik said, adding that around 300 officers and 3,000 sailors from both the sides are participating.

Patnaik said that the understanding struck between the two navies during joint exercises helps during international anti-piracy operations and humanitarian assistance missions.

He said that the exercises include the entire gamut of maritime operations ranging from aircraft carrier operations, anti-submarine warfare exercises and maritime-interdiction operations.

The harbour phase of the joint exercise began on Friday.

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