Russia and Italy have begun a joint naval exercise, Ionex-2011, in the Ionian Sea, Italy, to enhance interoperability between the navies.

The annual exercise focuses on improving skills to better conduct joint anti-terrorism and anti-piracy operations, according to RIA Novosti.

Italy’s Espero and the Aviere frigates will participate in the exercise alongside the Russian patrol ship Smetlivy and the Epron rescue boat from the Black Sea Fleet.

The Ionex 2010 exercise involved Russia’s patrol ship Ladny and the Shakhter rescue tugboat while the Italian Navy was represented by the Artiglieri and Aliseo frigates.