SAN Chief attends Indian Navy Exercise Milan

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An SA Navy (SAN) delegation headed by Vice Admiral Monde Lobese was in the Indian city Visakhapatnam this month (February) participating in and observing Exercise Milan, widely regarded as the flagship Indian Navy event.

Milan (meaning Meeting in Hindi) ran from 19 to 27 February and was the 12th iteration of the Indian Navy’s multilateral naval exercise under the aegis of its Eastern Naval Command. Enhancing professional interaction between friendly navies and gaining experience in multilateral large force operations at sea was Milan’s central aim, working through harbour and sea phases.

While South Africa’s senior sailor kept busy fostering what SAN Corporate Communications said were “mutually beneficial ties with other participants, which will translate into combined naval exercises, ship visits, training programme exchanges and technical expertise benchmarking” other officers in the SAN delegation were involved in the harbour phase.

This, SAN Corporate Communication reported, included a table top exercise, “interactions with young officers, outstation cultural tours and the international city parade”.

Among those Lobese met at Exercise Milan 2024 were Chief of Staff of the Indian Navy, Admiral Hari Kumar; Deputy Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Lvovich Kasatonov; Commodore FJ Mwasikolile of the Tanzanian Navy Forces Command and Rear Admiral Nelson de Oliveira Leite of the Brazilian Navy (Marinha do Brasil).

Exercise Milan, according to the Indian Navy, evolved from a regional exercise into “a prestigious maritime exercise with 58 friendly foreign countries” involved this year. Milan 2022 saw the participation of 39 friendly foreign countries from several continents.

The sea phase this year (from 24 to 27 February) saw 20 Indian Navy ships and 15 foreign naval vessels in large force manoeuvres with advanced air defence operations, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare operations on the exercise roster.

Navies from the US, Japan, Australia, France, Bangladesh, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, among others, are participating in the 12th edition of the ‘Milan’ exercise that is aiming to bolster maritime cooperation among like-minded nations.

Participating navies included those from the United States, Japan, Australia, France, Bangladesh, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Milan was first held in 1995 with the participation of Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand in line with India’s ‘Look East’ policy.

India and South Africa enjoy close defence ties, with regular port visits by Indian Navy warships. For example, last year the INS Sunayna visited Durban in August and the Talwar class frigate INS Trishul visited Durban at the beginning of June while on an operational deployment in the Indian Ocean.