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Indian Navy’s largest-ever coastal defence exercise ‘Sea Vigil’ concludes

Indian Navy’s largest-ever coastal defence exercise Sea Vigil, which was conducted by the Navy and Coast Guard, concluded on January 23, 2019. The exercise, a first of its kind, was undertaken along the entire 7516.6 km coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone of India and involved all the 13 coastal States and Union Territories.

Jan 24, 2019 15:45 IST
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Indian Navy’s largest-ever coastal defence exercise - ‘Sea Vigil’- which was conducted by the Navy and Coast Guard, in close coordination with State Governments and Union Territories concluded on January 23, 2019.

The exercise, a first of its kind, was undertaken along the entire 7516.6 km coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone of India and involved all the 13 coastal States and Union Territories along with all maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities.

Objective

The key aim of the exercise was to comprehensively and holistically validate the efficacy of the measures taken since the '26/11' attack in Mumbai.

It aimed to simultaneously activate the coastal security mechanism across all states and union territories.

Key Highlights

Sea Vigil was the largest such exercise the country had ever witnessed in recent times and saw participation by more than 100 ships, aircraft and patrol boats manned and operated by various security agencies.  

It covered a wide frontage, covering for the first time the entire coast of India, including island territories, seaward, coastal and hinterland areas.

The exercise comprised two distinct phases. In the first phase, all the involved parties assessed the robustness of their own organisations.

During the second phase, simulated attacks were carried out on vital installations and assets by infiltrating through the sea, in Kerala and Lakshadweep.

The security agencies were able to thwart attempts by the opposing force to infiltrate onto the coast using commandeered fishing boats.

The response of agencies to other security contingencies such as hijacking of a ship and attack on offshore installations off Kochi Harbour was also assessed.

All infiltration attempts will be analysed promptly to identify gaps in the multi-tier security layers at sea, close to the land and also in the hinterland in close coordination with concerned stakeholders.    

Further, all operational centres of the Navy and Coast Guard and control rooms of Police and Kochi Port were fully activated during the exercise, to enable exchange of information.

During the exercise, multi-agency teams also evaluated the security set up implemented by agencies including at fishing harbours, fish landing centres, police control rooms and ports amongst others.

Significance

Though smaller exercises are conducted in coastal states on a biannual basis, including combined exercises amongst adjoining states, this is the first-of-its-kind security exercise to be conducted at the national level.

The exercise reflects the distance that has been covered since '26/11' and the relative maturing of the organisation for coastal security to take on this large-scale endeavour.

It will facilitate in establishing shortfalls, working out new ways to optimise resources, recommend solutions to higher authorities and refine standard operating procedures (SoPs).

Further, with active support from all stakeholders, such exercises can strengthen the overall security architecture and enhance confidence to thwart any misadventure by anti-national elements. 

Other Details

The exercise was a build-up towards the major theatre level tri-service exercise ‘TROPEX’ (Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercise) which Indian Navy conducts once every two years.

Exercise Sea Vigil and TROPEX together will cover the entire spectrum of maritime security, including the transition from peace to conflict.

All operational assets of the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard participated in the Sea Vigil.

Background

In the aftermath of "26/11", a whole-of-government approach to maritime security was adopted and a large number of measures were taken by a host of stakeholders.

The Indian Coast Guard was designated as the agency responsible for overall maritime security, including offshore and coastal security in territorial waters, including waters to be patrolled by the State Marine Police.

Coastal security is a complex construct since it involves activities both at sea and at land. Hence, in the discharge of these very responsibilities, the Indian Navy planned exercise 'SEA VIGIL'.

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