India and Thailand on Wednesday commenced the 31st edition of Coordinated Patrols, or CORPAT, intended to reinforce maritime links between the two countries and keep a vital part of the Indian Ocean safe and secure for international trade.
In the process to expand the cooperation in maritime relations in the Indian Ocean Region, the Indian Navy is in pursuit of opening a new bilateral relationship with more countries that sit on the coastline of the Indian Ocean and border the Pacific Ocean. Seeing it as the first chapter, the Indian Navy initiated the first joint patrol with the Royal Thai Navy with an offshore limited scale drill to strengthen regional maritime ties. This is the first of a biannual exercise, the Indian Navy said in a statement.
The Indian Navy’s (INS) Saryu, an indigenously built Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel and His Majesty’s Thailand Ship (HTMS) Krabi, an Offshore Patrol Vessel, along with Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft from both navies are participating in the CORPAT, the statement said.
“CORPAT builds up understanding and interoperability between navies and facilitates institution of measures to prevent and suppress unlawful activities like Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, maritime terrorism, armed robbery, and piracy,” the Indian Navy said.
“It further helps augment the operational synergy by exchanging information for the prevention of smuggling, illegal immigration, and conduct of SAR operations at sea,” it said.
As part of the Indian government’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), the Indian Navy has been “proactively engaging with countries in the Indian Ocean Region to further enhance regional maritime security,” the Indian Navy’s statement said.
The developments have been made possible through bilateral and multilateral exercises, coordinated patrols, joint exclusive economic zone surveillance, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief (HADR) operations.
“The Indian Navy and Royal Thai Navy have especially enjoyed a close and friendly relationship covering a wide spectrum of activities and interactions, which have strengthened over the years,” the Indian statement said.
So far, India and Thailand share friendly ties as both are members of the Bay of Bengal group of seven nations which brings South Asia alongside Thailand and Myanmar from South East Asia under one roof.
Thailand is a reputed and old member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). India is one of many nations that attends the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting, plus it includes the ASEAN and its dialogue partners. India has been a dialogue partner of ASEAN since the 1990s, and being a centerpiece of this forum, the country has acted to bring SAARC nations into developmental dialogues th especially in maritime security.