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India, Thailand in joint Navy training off Phuket



CAPE PANWA, PHUKET: The Royal Thai Navy completed the latest in a series of training exercises with their counterparts from India earlier this week.

For this year’s exercises, about 50 Indian sailors aboard the Bangaram Class patrol vessel INS Batti Malv took part in offshore reconnaissance maneuvers that began last Friday.

The Thai side was led by Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Nawin Thananate.

His Indian counterparts were Far Eastern Naval Command Chief of Staff Maj Gen Ak Chaturvedi and Commanding Officer Mahesh Rahangdale.

The training ended with a meeting at the Royal Thai Navy Third Naval Area Command base at Panwa Cape on Thursday.

This year was the ninth biennial training exercise.

“The meeting is very important because we have shared maritime boundaries. After what happened in Bombay on November 26, 2008 it is especially important that we make safeguarding maritime interests of paramount importance,” said Gen Ak.

“We need a co-ordinated patrolling and surveillance effort. The next meeting will be in April, 2010,” he added.

The Andaman and Nicobar chain comprises 572 islands located more than 420 miles northwest of Phuket.

Thai and Indian territorial waters do not overlap, but there is overlap between the much larger economic exclusion zones.

India keeps a large military presence in Port Blair – a strategically important location as it is the entrance to the Strait of Malacca – through which half of the world’s oil supplies are shipped.

INS Batti Malv returned to its home port of Port Blair earlier today.

The vessel is named after a small, uninhabited isle in the Nicobar southern group that is a wildlife reserve.

— Atchaa Khamlo


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