INS Tabar arrived on the south coast of England on goodwill mission in time for Independence Day celebrations.
An Indian Navy frontline frigate docked at Portsmouth harbour on England’s south coast as part of a goodwill visit and to conduct joint exercises with its UK counterparts, marking another chapter in the UK-India defence partnership.
INS Tabar, which arrived at Portsmouth last week to undertake the annual bilateral exercise Konkan between the Indian Navy and Britain’s Royal Navy, hosted a special flag hoisting ceremony with its approximately 300 crew on board under the command of Captain Mahesh Mangipudi on Indian Independence Day.
“The Indian Navy and Royal Navy share unique historical ties. They have been conducting the bilateral naval exercise Konkan every year since 2004,” said Indian High Commissioner to the UK Gaitri Issar Kumar.
“We have been looking forward to the goodwill visit of INS Tabar, a frontline frigate of the Indian Navy. Its joint exercises, along with HMS Westminster of the Royal Navy are aimed at enhancing interoperability, synergy and cooperation between both navies,” she said.
The warship, part of the Western Fleet of the Indian Navy, set sail from Mumbai in early June and has conducted exercises in Russia and Italy en route to the UK and is expected back in India by next month.
This year’s edition of Exercise Konkan commenced when the Indian Navy and Royal Navy met for exercises at sea before the harbour phase of the exercise, during which several professional interactions, sharing of best practices and harbour drills were also conducted.
The exercise continued at sea this week, when INS Tabar meets up with a Royal Navy frigate along with shore-based aircraft for air defence exercises, anti-submarine procedures, replenishment at sea activities, and communication drills at sea. A highlight of the exercise will be the cross-deck helicopter operations, wherein helicopters will carry out landing procedures.
“I have no doubt that their visit to Portsmouth, hosted by the Royal Navy, will contribute to further strengthening the friendly contacts and cooperation between both navies,” added the High Commissioner.
The latest interaction comes as the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2021, led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, met up with the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal for three days of complex maritime interactions last month.
The maritime partnership exercise between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy saw the two navies conducting a range of multi-ship, air, sea and sub-surface maritime evolutions, as well as close quarter manoeuvring. Such exercises enable both forces to advance their interoperability and cooperation ahead of further exercises when the CSG returns to the Indian Ocean in October. The combined forces for the exercises equate to 10 ships, two submarines, approximately 20 aircraft and almost 4,000 personnel.
“The UK and India are key defence partners and the Carrier Strike Group’s deployment is a symbol of Global Britain in action, showcasing our commitment to India, the Indo-Pacific region, and confronting threats to international order,” said Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, the UK’s Chief of Joint Operations.
According to the UK Foreign Office, both the UK and India are in the midst of a carrier renaissance, with the CSG spearheading the UK’s Joint Expeditionary capability. The joint endeavour is aimed at providing "tangible" security to friendly countries and a credible deterrence to those who seek to undermine global security.
Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group, added: “As HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group cross the Indian Ocean, it is only natural that we should exercise with the Indian Navy.
“At the strategic level, the exercise is a muscular expression of the closer defence partnership that Prime Ministers Johnson and Modi envisaged when they agreed the UK-India Roadmap 2030 earlier this year.”
As part of its maiden operational deployment, the CSG will sail over 26,000 nautical miles, engaging with 40 countries from the Mediterranean to the Indo-Pacific and back again.