SIMBEX expands scope, adds more firepower on its Silver Jubilee

Singapore and India's annual naval exercise SIMBEX expanded its scope on its silver jubilee this year by adding more firepower and increasing the geographical range of the drill - from Andaman & Nicobar Islands to Visakhapatnam on the mainland.

A guard of honour on arrival of Singapore's Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen at Andaman and Nicobar Triservices Command (Photo courtesy: Indian High Commission, Singapore
A guard of honour on arrival of Singapore's Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen at Andaman and Nicobar Triservices Command. Photo courtesy: Indian High Commission, Singapore

The spectacular exercises were marked by successful missile engagements of aerial targets by ships of the two navies, anti-submarine warfare rocket firings, medium calibre gun engagements, flying operations and a steam past by participating ships and fighter jets.

Singapore's Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen being given a briefing on a strategic maritime region (Photo courtesy: Indian High Commission, Singapore
Singapore's Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen being given a briefing on a strategic maritime region. Photo courtesy: Indian High Commission, Singapore

The action by two navies was witnessed by Singapore's Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen who was received at the Andaman and Nicobar Triservices Command with Guard of Honour. The officers briefed him on the strategic maritime region of great importance to both countries.

This year drill featured about thirty military assets and a successful combined missile firing between Royal Singapore Navy's RSS Steadfast and Indian Navy's INS Satpura.

Singapore's Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen signing Visitor's Book  at Andaman and Nicobar Triservices Command (Photo courtesy: Indian High Commission, Singapore
Singapore's Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen signing Visitor's Book at Andaman and Nicobar Triservices Command. Photo courtesy: Indian High Commission, Singapore

Ng called the drill "a glowing testament to the enduring and growing defence relationship between India and Singapore."

Defence Minister of the Republic of Singapore Dr Ng Eng Hen  addressing officers of two navies participating Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise SIMBEX2018 in the Bay of Bengal (Photo courtesy: Indian Ministry of Defence
Defence Minister of the Republic of Singapore Dr Ng Eng Hen addressing officers of two navies participating Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise SIMBEX2018 in the Bay of Bengal. Photo courtesy: Indian Ministry of Defence

India's Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba hailed it as longest running, uninterrupted military exercise between any two countries.

Singapore's Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen at the console of an unidentified vessel in Andaman and Nicobar riservices Command (Photo courtesy: Indian High Commission, Singapore
Singapore's Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen at the console of an unidentified vessel in Andaman and Nicobar riservices Command. Photo courtesy: Indian High Commission, Singapore

"SIMBEX is the longest uninterrupted bilateral maritime exercise that India has had with any navy. The 25th edition of SIMBEX is the largest in terms of complexity, weapon firings and maritime geography," the navy chief said on the occasion.

After an intense sea phase of SIMBEX, Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal, ships of the Republic of Singapore Navy arrived Visakhapatnam.  

Defence Minister of the Republic of Singapore Dr Ng Eng Hen with Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba (Photo courtesy, Ng Eng Hen, Twitter
Defence Minister of the Republic of Singapore Dr Ng Eng Hen with Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba(right). Photo courtesy, Ng Eng Hen, Twitter

The twelve-day long drill saw an unprecedented level of interoperability between the two navies comprising ships, submarines and aircraft of India and Singapore that undertook multi-dimensional exercises at sea with a very high degree of complexity.

After the initial harbour phase at Port Blair, the exercises witnessed action at sea and shifted to the second harbour phase at Visakhapatnam that houses Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy.

An unidentified warship in SIMBEX2018 in Bay of Bengal (Photo courtesy: Indian Ministry of Defence
An unidentified warship in SIMBEX2018 in Bay of Bengal. Photo courtesy: Indian Ministry of Defence

The exercises were conducted in four phases, two each in harbour at Port Blair and Visakhapatnam and two sea phases in the Bay of Bengal.

At Andaman Sea, a dozen ships and submarines engaged in "a never seen before" number of weapon firings at sea.  The action then shifted to the harbour activities at Visakhapatnam.

Officers apprising Defence Minister of the Republic of Singapore Ng Eng Hen with interoperability of the two navies in action at sea during 25th Edition of Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise SIMBEX2018 in the Bay of Bengal (Photo courtesy: Indian Ministry of Defence
Officers apprising Defence Minister of the Republic of Singapore Ng Eng Hen with interoperability of the two navies in action at sea during 25th Edition of Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise SIMBEX2018 in the Bay of Bengal. Photo courtesy: Indian Ministry of Defence
Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, and Rear Admiral Lew Chuen Hong, Chief of Republic of Singapore Navy at Silver Jubilee Commemoration Ceremony to mark 25th edition of of SIMBEX onboard INS Sahyadri at Vizag (Photo courtesy: Indian Ministry of Defence
Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, and Rear Admiral Lew Chuen Hong, Chief of Republic of Singapore Navy at Silver Jubilee Commemoration Ceremony to mark the 25th edition of SIMBEX onboard INS Sahyadri at Vizag. Photo courtesy: Indian Ministry of Defence

 

Author
Pradeep Rana
Pradeep Rana – Senior Correspondent

Pradeep Rana has worked as a journalist with news ​agencies UNI and PTI, newspapers Indian Express and The Times Of India, and television channel NHK as South Asia Correspondent. He has also worked as Media Analyst at US Embassy, and edited several magazines and a medical handbook.

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