It aims to enhance inter-operability and exchange best practices and procedures between the two sides

The Ninth Edition of annual Indian Navy (IN) – Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) bilateral maritime exercise SLINEX-20 commenced off Visakhapatnam, India on Monday.

The first phase - the harbour phase - is underway at the Visakhapatnam port and will continue till Tuesday. It will be followed by the sea phase on March 9 and 10 in the Bay of Bengal.

According to the Ministry of Defence, the Sri Lanka Navy is being represented by SLNS Sayurala, an advanced offshore patrol vessel and the Indian Navy by INS Kirch, a guided missile corvette.

Other participants from the Indian Navy include INS Jyoti, a fleet support tanker, Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), Seaking and Chetak Helicopters, and Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

The previous edition of SLINEX was conducted off Trincomalee, Sri Lanka in October 2020.

SLINEX-20 aims to enhance inter-operability, improve mutual understanding, and exchange best practices and procedures for multi-faceted maritime operations between both navies. The exercise will also showcase the capabilities of India's indigenously constructed naval ships and aircraft.

The harbour phase would include professional, cultural, sporting and social exchanges. Exercises during the sea phase will include surface and anti-air weapon firing exercises, seamanship evolution, aviation operations including cross deck flying, advanced tactical manoeuvres and special forces operations at sea.

"These will further enhance the high degree of inter-operability already existing between the two navies," the Ministry said.

SLINEX series of exercises exemplifies the deep engagement between India and Sri Lanka which has strengthened mutual cooperation in the maritime domain.

Interaction between the two nations has also grown significantly in recent years, in consonance with India’s policy of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and Prime Minister Modi's vision of ‘Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR)’.