“The scale and conceptual expanse of the two-day 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,” Navy spokesperson commander Vivek Madhwal said on Monday.
This will be the third edition of the ‘pan-India’ Sea Vigil coastal defence exercise ‘Sea Vigil-22’, which was conceptualised in 2018 to validate various measures that have been instituted towards enhancing maritime security since the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai in 2008.
The Sea Vigil exercise will also be a build up towards the major theatre-level readiness operational exercise (Tropex), which the Navy conducts every two years. “Sea Vigil and Tropex together will cover the entire spectrum of maritime security challenges,” commander Madhwal said.
Sea Vigil will involve all the coastal states and UTs along with other maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities. In addition to the defence ministry, the conduct of this exercise is also being facilitated by the ministries and departments of home affairs, shipping and waterways, petroleum and natural gas, fisheries, animal husbandry, customs and others.
The exercise will provide an opportunity at the apex level to assess the country’s preparedness in the domain of maritime security and coastal defence, with a realistic assessment of strengths and weaknesses.
The 26/11 carnage in Mumbai, in particular, had exposed the lack of “critical connectivity” between intelligence agencies and security agencies. Though there were some intelligence inputs about fishing vessel Kuber trying to infiltrate through the sea route at that time, it had slipped through the cracks to allow Ajmal Kasab and nine other terrorists to reach Mumbai and unleash mayhem.