PartnershipsSoutheast Asia

ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise stresses cooperation, interoperability


The leaders of the Indian and Singaporean navies, Adm. R. Hari Kumar, pictured, and Rear Adm. Sean Wat, launched the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India Maritime Exercise (AIME-23) at Changi Naval Base, Singapore, in early May 2023.

The weeklong exercise provided an opportunity for the Indian Navy and ASEAN navies to work together and improve interoperability, the Indian Navy said in a news release.

“The visit of the CNS [chief of naval staff] signifies [a] high level of bilateral defense engagements with Singapore as well as India’s recognition of ‘ASEAN Centrality’ to the region. Participation of the Indian Navy in the inaugural ASEAN–India Maritime Exercise is therefore a milestone event in this context,” the Indian Navy said.

New Delhi’s push to increase maritime security cooperation with Southeast Asian countries comes amid increasing tensions with the People’s Republic of China not only in the Indian Ocean, and East and South China seas but also along the Line of Actual Control, which marks the disputed India-China border in eastern Ladakh.

Nine ships, six aircraft and more than 1,800 personnel from India and Southeast Asian nations, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam participated in the exercise, India’s Asian News Agency (ANI) reported.

AIME-23 included a harbor phase from May 2-4 at Changi Naval Base and a sea phase from May 7-8 in the South China Sea.

During the latter, ships tracked simulated vessels of interest using alerts from ASEAN and the Republic of Singapore Navy’s monitoring systems, The Week magazine reported. They also practiced activities related to the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.

Two domestically built vessels from the Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet, pictured, the guided-missile destroyer INS Delhi and the INS Satpura, a guided-missile stealth frigate, participated in AIME-23, as well as in the International Maritime Security Conference and International Maritime Defence Exhibition in Singapore, the Indian Navy said.

The guided-missile destroyer INS Delhi and the INS Satpura

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh emphasized ASEAN’s centrality in the Indo-Pacific in his November 2022 address at the India-ASEAN Defence Ministers’ meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia. He also said he considers ASEAN centrality to be at the core of India’s “Act East Policy,” The Week reported.

“AIME reinforces this belief and India’s commitment to ‘Act East’ in its endeavor to ensure ‘Security and Growth for all in the Region,’” the Indian Navy said.


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