Later this week, India and the UK will participate in the most demanding first tri-service exercise in the Bay of Bengal.
With the focus on Indo-Pacific, the exercise with the UK’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG), led by 65,000 tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth with its fifth-generation F-35B `lightning’ fighter jets, is scheduled to take off the western coast between Oct 21- 27 – and this will include the Harbour Phase as well as Sea Phase. India has had tri-service exercises – Army, Navy and Air Force with two other countries earlier — the US and Russia.
In an official statement issued on the forthcoming bilateral exercise, British High Commissioner Alex Ellis said, “India is an essential partner for the UK in the Indo-Pacific region and the visit by the carrier strike group demonstrates the deepening of the bilateral defence and security partnership. And for ensuring a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific, India is essential.”
According to the British envoy, the deployment of CSG is a powerful demonstration of the UK’s commitment to deepening its diplomatic, economic and security-based ties within the Indo-Pacific region.
The Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson had both agreed to work together towards security and prosperity. And now the visit by the CSG is expected to boost cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries and will be like a living bridge connecting people of the two sides.
First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin said “The two navies are blue-water, multi-carrier navies. And this puts us in a very exclusive club.”
According to an official statement issued by the British High Commission in New Delhi, the visit by CSG is going to provide a platform for trade and investment initiatives and also a wide range of cultural demonstrations.
Royal Netherlands Navy
For the first time HNLMS Evertsen, a Provincien-class frigate of the Royal Netherlands Navy has arrived in Mumbai as part of the CSG. Since the Netherlands recognizes the importance of the Indo-Pacific Region and the role of India, it has sent its frigate to build deeper military relations. This is the maiden deployment of the Dutch vessel to the region. The Dutch government in 2020 had announced their Indo-Pacific guidelines. Before arriving in India, the Dutch frigate Evertsen visited Changi Naval Base, Singapore, Japan (Yokosuka) and South Korea (Busan).
Said the envoy of the Netherlands Marten van den Berg, “For Europe and the Indo-Pacific the Indian Ocean is a gateway. And the visit by HNLMS Evertsen is a confirmation of our long standing strong relationship.”
Both India and The Netherlands are like-minded partners, and are committed to an effective multilateralism. “And the first ever visit of a frigate, reaffirms support by the two countries to the rules-based international order and shares the common principles of security, stability and freedom of navigation.”