New Delhi (Sputnik): Left without minesweepers due to a delayed procurement, the Indian Navy has started its 2JA mine countermeasures exercise with US and Japan using only Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) units. The exercise began on Wednesday near Ominato in Japan. The annual exercise is meant to improve interoperability and develop proficiencies in mine countermeasures operations amongst regional allies and partners.
"The mine countermeasure mission is hugely important to both military and civilian shipping from all nations in the Indo-Pacific region and keeping waterways clear of mine threats is fundamental to national security and the free flow of trade," Rear Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of the US Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, said in a statement.
The US Navy has deployed an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship, an explosive ordnance disposal mobile unit, and a helicopter mine countermeasures squadron for the exercise, while the Japanese Navy has deployed two mine-sweeping ships. namely JS Awaji and JS Hirado, fifteen mine-sweeping coastal ships; a helicopter mine warfare squadron; four P-3C patrol aircraft and one P-1 patrol aircraft.
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy has retired all six mine countermeasures vessels at its disposal, which has left the world's fifth largest navy without these crucial assets.
The Indian Navy has been trying to acquire 12 mine countermeasures vessels for over a decade. Presently, India's state-owned Goa Shipyard is trying to acquire foreign technology to build mine countermeasures vessels after two failed attempts to seal a contract with the South Korean firm Kangnam Corporation. The last attempt had fallen apart in January this year after prolonged negotiations between the two parties, as differences persisted over the transfer of technology and cost.