Australian Navy agrees to India assuming policing role in Indian Ocean

Port Blair (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Feb 7: Despite tensions rising in India over the racist attacks against Indian students Down Under, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has said that it is not against its Indian counterpart assuming a policing role in the Indian Ocean region.

The RAN wants to have joint operations to counter threats from terrorists, pirates and other criminals in the sea lanes.

The RAN is participating in Exercise Milan hosted by India to bring together navies of the Asia-Pacific region to promote understanding and cooperation in the areas of common interest and safeguard sea lanes from poaching, piracy and terrorist activities, promote interoperability to the extent possible and engage in joint search and rescue and humanitarian operations.

Australia has sent the HMAS Glenelg to participate in Exercise Milan, which started on February 4.

"It is obvious for every country to jointly participate in exercise to counter piracy, criminal activity and terrorism," said Lieutenant Commander Shane Doolin, the commander of the ship.

"Milan is a good example where two navies learn from each other to operate in an emergency situation. The visit so far has been fantastic. We have been continuously supported to explore the environment here," he said.

"We are part of Indian Ocean nations and this exercise is a joint nation exercise witnessing participation of 13 navies in order to provide joint task force to counter threats appearing in the sea lanes," said Lieutenant Commander Shane Doolin.

He added: "We are all partners in the Indian Ocean and in reality this exercise focus' on providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relier relief as quick as possible," he said.

The HMAS Glenelg is a next-generation ship with a crew of 25 members. The offshore patrol vessel is a newly-built ship having state of art satellite navigation system that enables the ship position to be determined with great accuracy.

Lieutenant Commander Shane Doolin said the Indian Navy has experience of combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Australian Navy has maritime experience, which they can use to work together to solve the problems.

Milan 2010 will will also provide opportunities to promote understanding and camaraderie amongst the navies of the Asia-Pacific region and encourages ship visits, social interactions and cultural presentations by the participating countries.

Naval ships of Singapore (two ships), Sri Lanka, Thailand, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar, with representatives from navies of Brunei, Philippines, Vietnam and New Zealand joining Exercise Milan. By Praful Kumar Singh

Copyright Asian News International/