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Indian Navy to hold mega coastal defence exercise covering over 7,500 kms of coastline

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NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Navy will kick-start on Tuesday a two-day multi-agency military exercise covering India's 7,516 km-long coastline, involving 13 coastal states and Union Territories, to further bolster maritime security and surveillance, officials said.

Billed as India's largest coastal defence drill, the second edition of exercise 'Sea Vigil' is being organised to check the efficacy of the measures initiated to plug gaps in coastal security following the Mumbai terror attack in 2008, they said.

"The scale and conceptual expanse of the exercise is unprecedented in terms of the geographical extent, the number of stakeholders involved, the number of units participating and in terms of the objectives to be met," the Indian Navy said.

"The exercise will provide a realistic assessment of our strengths and weaknesses and thus will help in further strengthening maritime and national security," it added.

Officials said Indian Navy will deploy a sizeable number of its ships and other key assets in the Sea Vigil exercise.

The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have taken a series of measures to bolster India's coastal security after the Mumbai terror attack in which over 166 people including 28 foreigners from 10 nations were killed by a group of Pakistani terrorists.

On November 26, 2008, a group of 10 Pakistani terrorists carried out the coordinated attack on a railway station, two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre, after they sneaked into India's financial capital using the sea route in the Arabian sea.

The inaugural edition of the Sea Vigil exercise took place in January 2019.

The exercise is taking place at a time when India and China are locked in a bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh.

In sync with the national security doctrine, the Indian Navy significantly increased its deployment of warships, submarines and other assets in the Indian Ocean Region, in an attempt to send across a message to China that Indian armed forces are fully prepared to deal with any challenge.

The two-day drill is a build-up towards Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercise (TROPEX) which the Indian Navy conducts every two years, officials said.

"Sea Vigil and TROPEX together will cover the entire spectrum of maritime security challenges, including transition from peace to conflict. Assets of the Indian Navy, Coast Guard, Customs and other maritime agencies will participate in Sea Vigil," the Navy said in a statement.

It said the conduct of the exercise is also being facilitated by the ministries of defence, home affairs, shipping, petroleum and natural gas, fisheries, customs and state governments among others.

"While smaller scale exercises are conducted in coastal states regularly, including combined exercises amongst adjoining states, the conduct of a security exercise at national-level is aimed to serve a larger purpose," the Navy said

It provides opportunity, at the apex level, to assess the preparedness in the domain of maritime security and coastal defence, it added.

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