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Feb 20, 2024 / 22:04

Vietnam joins mega multinational naval exercise

Vietnam is one of the key countries in India’s “Look East” policy.

The naval vessel Corvette 20 of the Vietnam People’s Army has arrived in Vizag, Andhra Pradesh State, India, to join navies from almost 50 countries in the 12th edition of the Multilateral Naval Exercise (MILAN) held on February 19-27. 

 Vietnamese naval officers on Corvette 20 come to Visakhapatnam port city, India. Photo: QDND

A ceremony welcoming Corvette 20 was hosted by INS Airavat of India’s Navy.

The Vietnamese ship will take part in the Indian Navy’s largest-ever multilateral naval exercise with representatives from countries including Australia, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and the US. 

This is the third time Vietnam has joined the biennial multilateral naval exercise held in India.

The MILAN 2024 brings together dozens of warships and one maritime patrol aircraft from friendly foreign countries, according to India’s Ministry of Defense, including 20 host nation ships such as aircraft carriers INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya, and nearly 50 aircraft embracing MiG29K, LCA, Tejas and P8I for the exercise.

“Milan 2024 aims to strengthen regional cooperation and maritime security, foster interoperability and understanding between participating navies, and provide a platform for sharing best practices and expertise,” Indian Navy spokesperson Vivek Madhwal said.

Highlights of the exercise are the harbor phase held on February 19-23 involving the international city parade, international maritime seminar, maritime tech expo, expert exchanges, and tabletop exercises. Meanwhile, the sea phase from February 24 to February 27 will feature advanced air defense, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare drills.

Gunfire on air and surface targets, maneuvers, and underway replenishment would also be conducted. 

 Corvette 20 from the Vietnam People's Army arrives in Vizag. Photo: India's Ministry of Defense 

MILAN is a biennial multinational naval exercise launched in 1995 in consonance with India’s “Look East” policy.

The MILAN exercise has taken on added significance with India's increasing strategic importance in the Indo-Pacific region. Countries now see it as a desirable forum for exchanging ideas and improving maritime security.

Vietnam, with a coastline of more than 3,200 km and a vast exclusive economic zone (EEZ), has placed a strong emphasis on the maritime domain and improved its naval capabilities over the years. In its National Defense White Paper published in 2019, the country prioritizes safeguarding the sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over its waters and maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight.

The People’s Navy, the Coast Guard, the Border Protection Force, and the Directorate of Fisheries are typical of Vietnam's maritime forces.

Vietnam uses marine resources to promote economic growth with six pillars, namely tourism and marine services; exploitation of seaports and marine transport services; exploitation of oil and gas and other marine mineral resources; aquaculture and fishing; coastal industries; and renewable energy and new marine economic sectors.

Currently, the marine industries are Vietnam’s main source of economic growth, accounting for about 60% of the country’s GDP through the economies of 28 coastal provinces and cities.