The Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, Admiral R Hari Kumar, called on Singaporean Minister of Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen this morning. This took place within the scope of India’s participation in a weeklong (May 2-8) naval drill with the 10 ASEAN countries — the ASEAN+1 drill or, formally, the inaugural ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise (AIME-2023), which began at the Changi Naval Base, Singapore, yesterday.
India is also participating at the 13th International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) Asia, which runs alongside the naval drill, and the meeting between Dr Ng and Admiral Hari Kumar took place on the sidelines of IMDEX. According to a Singapore government media release: “During their meeting, Dr Ng and Admiral Kumar reaffirmed the strong and long-standing bilateral defence ties between Singapore and India. They also discussed regional security developments and the importance of leveraging multilateral platforms for confidence building.”
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Minister of Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen opened IMDEX Asia at the Changi Exhibition Centre this morning. This year’s IMDEX resumes in full scale, with a physical exhibition at the Centre and a warship display in RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base (CNB) following a four-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
About the visit of the Indian Navy chief, the media release added: “Admiral Kumar is in Singapore from May 1 to 4, 2023, for his introductory visit. On May 1, 2023, he received a brief on Singapore’s history and visited the Kranji War Memorial. On May 2, 2023, he inspected the Guard of Honour at the Ministry of Defence, before calling on Chief of Defence Force Rear-Admiral (RADM) Aaron Beng and Chief of Navy RADM Sean Wat. Thereafter, he visited the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) at RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base (CNB), where he was briefed on how the IFC contributes towards maritime security by cueing operational responses from regional navies through information sharing.
“Thereafter, he co-officiated the opening ceremony for the inaugural ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise with RADM Wat, before visiting the RSN’s Formidable-class Frigate RSS Supreme. Admiral Kumar will also attend the 8th edition of the International Maritime Security Conference (IMSC) on May 4, 2023.”
The release informed: “Admiral Kumar’s visit underscores the strong and long-standing bilateral defence relations between Singapore and India. The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Indian Navy interact regularly through bilateral exercises, professional exchanges, visits and cross-attendance of courses. These mutually beneficial interactions have deepened the bilateral defence relationship, enhanced mutual understanding and strengthened the co-operation between the two navies.”
On the sidelines of IMDEX Asia, Dr Ng also had visits from naval chiefs of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) member nations (Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom) — Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice-Admiral Mark Hammond; Chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy, Admiral Datuk Abdul Rahman Ayob; Chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy, Rear-Admiral David Proctor; Chief of the Republic of Singapore Navy, Rear-Admiral Sean Wat Jianwen; and Second Sea Lord and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff of the Royal Navy, Vice-Admiral Martin Connell. They jointly called on the Singaporean minister of defence.
Reaffirming their commitment, the FPDA naval chiefs exchanged views with Dr Ng on the importance of maintaining strong military-to-military ties and to deepen co-operation.
Also this morning, the German Chief of Navy, Vice-Admiral Jan Christian Kaack called on Dr Ng. They discussed bilateral co-operation, geopolitical developments, and security challenges in the region.
At the IMDEX opening ceremony today, Dr Ng highlighted the importance of strengthening mutual understanding and fostering consensus, against the backdrop of increasing tensions in a globally inter-linked world. He said, “IMDEX Asia provides an important platform to maintain and hopefully enhance regional stability and security. That alone provides sufficient cause for government leaders and military commanders to be here.”
Dr Ng said, “In my mind, the top priority for all government leaders, at least in the next decade, if not longer, is to avoid a physical conflict in Asia.”
In attendance at the opening ceremony were 47 delegations, including 22 Navy chiefs, directors general of Coast Guards and heads of maritime law enforcement agencies from 38 countries. Over 250 exhibitors from around the world are participating in this year’s exhibition, while 22 ships from 13 countries are taking part in this year’s IMDEX Asia Warships Display.
In conjunction with IMDEX Asia 2023, the Republic of Singapore Navy is co-organising the 8th International Maritime Security Conference with the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the Maritime Information-Sharing Exercise from May 3 to 5, 2023. These exchanges provide excellent opportunities for navies and maritime agencies to strengthen friendships and forge practical co-operation.