Apharan: Indian Navy’s largest anti-hijacking exercise

On Decebmer 18, 2019, the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard at Cochin port conducted large scale anti-hijacking exercise. The exercise was called Apharan.

Highlights

Multiple agencies participated in the exercise. It included 12 ships and helicopters of Cochin Port trust, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard. This is the first time an anti-hijacking exercise is being conducted at a large scale in India and in the port of Cochin.

During the exercise, insertion of Marine Commandos (MarCos) into the hijacked vessel through boarding operations and slithering into the deck from a Sea King helicopter were demonstrated.

Significance

The exercise acted as a platform for the stakeholders to identify gaps and self-assess the preparedness of their respective organizations. It also helped to formulate an integrate crisis management for the port of Kochi or Cochin.

Currently, hijacking of merchant vessels is one of the challenging scenarios of the Indian Navy. Piracy returned in 21st century after Somalian pirates began to hijack commercial ships and demand large ransoms. The Indian Navy began its anti-piracy operations in Gulf of Aden since 2008. It escorts Indian-flagged ships and also ships from other countries.

It is also important for India to strengthen its anti-piracy skills as terrorists make their way onto the Indian shores via inflatable speed boats. In 2008, 10 terrorists involved in Mumbai terror attack made their way through sea.

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