India and the EU have carried out a joint naval drill in the Gulf of Aden to improve operational interoperability among the forces.

A total of five ships participated in the two-day exercise between the Indian Navy and the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia.

The vessels were Indian frigate INS Trikand, Italian frigate Carabiniere, Spanish frigate Navarra, French frigate Surcouf and French amphibious assault helicopter carrier Tonnerre.

During the drill, the naval activities were based on the scenario of an anti-piracy operation and involved live firing, cross-deck helicopter landings and complex tactical evolutions at sea.

The participating vessels also conducted a night-time joint patrol and a naval parade in the high seas off the coast of Somalia.

The Indian Ministry of Defence said in a statement: “The EU and India are committed to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region, underpinned by respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, democracy, rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, and peaceful resolution of disputes.

“They reaffirm the primacy of international law, including the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”

Notably, India and the EU agreed to deepen their dialogue and cooperation on maritime security in January 2021.

The Indian Navy has been escorting World Food Programme chartered vessels that are coordinated by EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta.

In April, the Indian Navy conducted a three-day naval exercise in the Arabian Sea with the French Navy.