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'sambandh 2009' a fruitful experience: Indian Navy

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MUMBAI (PTI): The Indian Navy's joint exercises with French and British navies in the Atlantic Ocean concluded recently after an over three-month expedition.

A task group of Indian Navy, comprising four indigenously-built frontline warships INS Delhi, INS Beas, INS Brahmaputra and INS Aditya, took part in exercises with Britain's Royal Navy and the French Navy in the Atlantic Ocean between April 27 and August 2.

This deployment -- codenamed 'sambandh 2009' -- stretched over three months covering a cumulative distance of more than 68,200 nautical miles, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet Rear Admiral S P S Cheema told reporters onboard INS Delhi.

Firing on air targets, anti-surface, anti-air warfare, helicopter operations on each other's decks were among the various manoeuvers carried out during the exercises.

"It was a fruitful experience. Earlier, all such exercises were held in the Indian Ocean. Exercising in foreign waters presented different operating and environmental conditions, thus offering varied experience and challenges to the equipment and the crew," Cheema said.

"This enabled a critical self-assessment of our capabilities and limitations besides enhancing confidence that the Indian Navy can operate in any part of the globe," he said.

"These exercises would promote mutual understanding among the countries and share information in tackling terrorism, drug and human trafficking," he said.

French and British frontline warships and aircraft participated in the exercises, the officer said.

"We shared each other's operating procedures and professional practices. We learnt from each other and this exercise helped us strengthen our rapport," he said, adding that it was the largest deployment of the Indian Navy in the Western Hemisphere.

The ships also sailed through 18 ports in as many countries and carried out exercises there as well, Cheema added.

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