DUBAI // The Navy will take part in exercises with its Indian counterparts on Wednesday as part of efforts to strengthen defence ties and improve cooperation.
Four Indian naval vessels, the destroyer Mysore, the missile frigates Tarkash and Tabar and the tanker Aditya, arrived at Dubai's Port Rashid on Sunday as part of a month-long deployment in the Arabian Gulf.
They will participate alongside five UAE naval ships in day-long exercises including manoeuvres and communication drills, according to Shekhar Sinha, the Indian navy's vice admiral and flag officer commanding-in-chief of the western naval command.
"This visit is part of bilateral cooperation and taking our interactions to a higher level," said vice admiral Sinha, who added he had also met with UAE Navy commander, Rear Admiral Ibrahim Salem Mohammed Al Musharrakh.
"We discussed how our cooperation can be increased further ... it is mutually beneficial to us to make sure that the sea lanes are kept open for trade between our countries. The exercises underscore our solidarity, our peaceful presence in the Gulf and strengthen bonds of friendship."
M?K Lokesh, the Indian ambassador, described the naval visit as important due to the historic links between the two countries.
"This visit is important in terms of strengthening our relations in the defence sector because defence is one area we have been focussing on since there is potential to take this partnership further," he said.
"Our links are important in terms of counter terrorism operations, maritime piracy and in terms of maintaining this region as a zone of peace. The UAE and India have common objectives in the region to protect the routes for trade and because the UAE is an important trade market for us."
Bilateral trade between India and UAE in 2011 stood at US$72?billion (Dh264.5?bn) and last year, with trade close to US$74bn, India became the UAE's second-largest trading partner behind China.
Apart from frequent port visits by both navies, UAE officers undergo training in Indian naval academies. The courses range from logistics management, anti-submarine warfare to hydrographic surveys that focus on charting harbour depth to calculate the draft of ships and cargo that can pass through.
Both navies also work together in areas such as combating trafficking in narcotics, information sharing and working with regional and international navies in fighting maritime piracy.
The Indian navy has escorted 2,500 ships over the past two years and dealt with 48 pirate attacks using force, vice admiral Sinha said.
"The entire area requires friends to ensure security and we have friendly ties with Gulf countries, particularly with the UAE and conduct regular exercises," he said.
The Mysore, which is fitted with surface-to-air missiles, torpedoes and anti-submarine rockets, along with the Tarkash and Tabar, which carry anti-ship and long range anti-submarine missiles, and the Aditya, a replenishment ship, are due to head out to Oman as part of the navy's Gulf deployment.
Vice admiral Sinha said the Indian navy was building 46 over the next five to 10 years to replace existing vessels.
Last month, the country launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier and began sea trials for the first Indian-made nuclear-powered submarine, the Sindhurakshak.
However, he said there were lessons to be learnt from the deadly explosions that killed 18 crew on a submarine last month at a Mumbai harbour.
"Eleven bodies have so far been taken out, nine crew have been identified and as I go back to India, two more will be identified by DNA tests," he said.
"Right now the effort is to get out as many of our remaining soldiers and find the other seven bodies and then investigations will go on.
"It was unfortunate and sad. There have been other submarine losses worldwide and all we can do is learn from this so it does not recur."