Ocean of Opportunities

Indian Navy’s multilateral engagement MILAN 2018 brought together 16 countries off Andaman and Nicobar islands

The Indian Navy’s biennial gathering of friendly navies to build friendship and mutual understanding was held this year from March 6 at Port Blair with 16 countries participating. The exercise had the largest gathering of warships since its inception in 1995 with the participation of 39 delegates including first time entrant, Oman. All foreign warships were received jointly by the army, navy and police bands.

Maldives withdrew from the event because of domestic political troubles but ships from participating countries of Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, namely Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and others berthed at Naval and Haddo jetties. The theme of this year’s exercise was ‘Friendship Across the Seas.’ Indian naval ships Sahyadri, Jyoti and Kirch from the Eastern Naval Command also participated in this multilateral exercise.

An international maritime seminar was also conducted in Haddo, Port Blair, on ‘In pursuit of Maritime Good Order — Need for Comprehensive Importance Sharing Apparatus’. MILAN is an forum to discuss common concerns in the Indian Ocean Region and also help forge co-operation initiatives. The forum began in 1995 and eight such gatherings have been held since then. It has evolved from an initiative of the Indian Navy in the early 1990s which aimed to create a forum for the littoral navies of the region to exchange thoughts in the area of maritime cooperation and ‘Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief’ (HADR).

It is deemed to be an effective platform for social, cultural and professional interactions and promoting camaraderie, maritime cooperation and inter-operability during humanitarian missions. The first MILAN began with five participating nations: India, Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Since then the event has been held every two years except for 2001, 2005 and 2016.

An Indian Naval Band enthralls the audience
A conductor directing his band
Delegates from participating countries
A ship from a friendly nation participating in MILAN 2018