In a big boost to India-France defence partnership, the navies of the two nations conducted naval exercise ‘Varuna-2022’ from 30 March to 3 April.
The annually held Varuna naval exercise is an integral part of France-India strategic relationship and consists of naval cooperation drills between the French Navy and the Indian Navy.
The joint-exercises are held either in the Indian Ocean or Mediterranean Sea with aim of improving India-France naval coordination.
The exercise this year had an expanded scope covering a broad spectrum of maritime operations.
According to an Indian Navy release, the eventful tactical sea phase of the exercise laid primary focus on advanced anti-submarine warfare tactics, gunnery shoots, seamanship evolutions, tactical manoeuvres and extensive air operations.
The units also undertook cross deck landings by integral helicopters, showcasing a high level of interoperability between them. Gun firing and underway replenishment procedures were also exercised between ships.
The final phase of the exercise progressed with tapered focus on advanced anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercises. INS Chennai with Sea King Mk 42B, maritime patrol aircraft P8i, French Navy frigate FS Courbet, support vessel FS Loire, and other units exercised on full spectrum of ASW operations. The later part of the exercise also included exchange of sea-riders at sea.
The last day of the exercise had cross visits of personnel, cross embarkation of sea-riders and a closing session was conducted. Participants and operations teams of Participating units met onboard INS Chennai for a comprehensive debrief.
All evolutions conducted at sea were discussed with options for possible inclusions in the future editions of the exercise. After debrief, culmination of the exercise was marked by the traditional steam past between ships of both navies, the release said.
INS Chennai passed the column of French warships at close range with personnel biding each other favourable winds and following seas for the journey ahead.
“Seamless coordination, precise execution of manoeuvres, and clockwork execution of complex anti-submarine warfare exercises characterized the conduct of Varuna-2022. All operational objectives of the exercise were accomplished by the participants in full measure,” the Indian Navy said.
The exercise reflected high synergy and mutual understanding between the Indian Navy and French Navy that will bolster their ability to undertake joint operations in maritime theatre, when required, according to the release.