Japanese, Indian Coast Guards hold exercise off Chennai coast

Chennai, Jan 13 (PTI): Coast Guards of India and Japan took part in a joint exercise 'Sahyog-Kaijin' off the Chennai coast on Thursday as part of strengthening the bond of the two countries.

One ship of the Japanese Coast Guard and four ships and an aircraft of the Indian Coast Guard took part in the exercise.

Led by Commanding Officer Captain Kiyoshi Harada, the 'Ehigo PLH08' and the four ships and a Dornier aircraft of Indian Coast Guard participated in the drill in the Bay of Bengal around 50 nautical miles off Chennai.

The highlight of the drill was the scenario of the interception of a hijacked ship and subsequent rescue of crew in a joint operation led by both the Coast Guards, a press release said.

The exercise marked demonstrations of search and rescue, external fire-fighting and sharing of best practices, the release said.

According to an official, the apprehension of a pirate vessel MV Alondra Rainbow by the Coast Guard in November 1999 off the west coast of India marked the beginning of regular interaction between the Coast Guards of India and Japan.

The apprehension of the vessel brought out the significance of a coordinated operation thereby encouraging the policy- makers to have a series of conferences and meetings to discuss issues of various crimes at sea.

The Japanese ship 'Echigo' undertook a goodwill visit to Chennai Port following the the signing of a memorandum of cooperation between the two Coast Guards in 2006.

The joint exercise, in its 19th edition, was witnessed by the Japanese Coast Guard Commandant Takahiro Okushima, Indian Coast Guard Director General Krishnaswamy Natarajan.

A vessel from National Institute of Ocean Technology also participated in the exercise.

The visit of Japanese ship, which arrived here on January 13, focuses on further strengthening ties, mutual understanding between the two Coast Guards, enhancing interoperability in communication, search and rescue procedures and sharing of best practices.

The exercise is also mutually beneficial and strengthens the existing bilateral relationships, enabling both Coast Guards to work together to protect shared interests.

Various activities were conducted during the visit of the Japanese ship and they included sporting and cultural interactions between personnel of both the Coast Guards.

During the exercise, the Coast Guard personnel of both the countries interacted, exchanged views and methods in the field of anti-piracy, search and rescue operations.

Following the signing of the memorandum of cooperation in November 2006, the Coast Guards were exercising jointly on waters of each other annually.

The first combined exercise witnessed the participation of Japan Coast Guard ship PLH Shikishima. PTI VIJ NVG NVG