India will kickstart on Tuesday a two-day multi-agency military exercise covering the country’s 7,516 km-long coastline and exclusive economic zone with the twin aim of checking the preparedness of various agencies to deal with any eventualities and bolster overall maritime security, officials said.
IMAGE: A Navy Special Forces commando with his dog on the back slithers down from the SeaKing multirole helicopter during the Sea Vigil exercise, January 14, 2021. Photograph: ANI Photo
The scale and conceptual expanse of the ‘Sea Vigil’ exercise is “unprecedented” in terms of the geographical extent, the number of stakeholders involved, the number of units participating and the objectives to be met, they said.
It will be the third edition of the exercise that was conceptualised in 2018 to validate various measures that have been instituted towards enhancing maritime security following the Mumbai terror attack in 2008.
The exercise is a build-up towards the major Theatre Level Readiness Operational Exercise (TROPEX), which the Indian Navy conducts every two years.
The officials said the Sea Vigil and TROPEX together will cover the entire spectrum of maritime security challenges.
Assets of the Indian Navy, Coast Guard, customs department and other maritime agencies are being deployed in the Sea Vigil exercise.
The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have taken a series of measures to strengthen India’s coastal security after the Mumbai terror attack in which over 166 people, including 28 foreigners from 10 nations, were killed by a group of Pakistani terrorists.
On November 26, 2008, a group of 10 Pakistani terrorists carried out the coordinated attack on a railway station, two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre, after they sneaked into India’s financial capital using the sea route in the Arabian sea.
The inaugural edition of the Sea Vigil exercise took place in January 2019.
In addition to the ministry of defence, the conduct of this exercise is also being facilitated by the ministries of home affairs, shipping and waterways, petroleum and natural gas, fisheries animal husbandry and dairying, customs, and other agencies concerned of the central and state governments.
“The exercise will be undertaken along the entire 7,516-km coastline and exclusive economic zone of India and will involve all coastal states and Union territories along with other maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities,” said an official.
“The exercise is being conducted by the Indian Navy in coordination with the Coast Guard and other ministries entrusted with the task of maritime activities,” he said.
While smaller scale exercises are conducted in coastal states regularly, including combined exercises among adjoining states, the conduct of exercise Sea Vigil at the national level is aimed to serve a larger purpose, the official said.
“It provides an opportunity, at the apex level, to assess our preparedness in the domain of maritime security and coastal defence. Exercise Sea Vigil-22 will provide realistic assessment of our strengths and weaknesses and thus, will help in further strengthening maritime and national security,” he said.