Mumbai March 4
The Indian Navy on Tuesday postponed a multi-nation mega naval exercise ‘’Milan 2020'’ which was scheduled to be held off the coast of Visakhapatnam, from 18 March to 28 March, as part of precautionary measures against the coronavirus outbreak.
In a biennial, multilateral naval exercise, over 40 countries were schedules to participate.. China was not invited to the drills. “MILAN” started in 1995, was conducted at the Andaman and Nicobar Command for the last several years.
The exercise was traditionally staged off Port Blair but was moved to the eastern seaboard this year as it offered better bandwidth for conducting bigger drills. The latest edition of Milan was organised in the backdrop of China’s growing naval activity in the Indian Ocean region.
“It is for information that “MILAN 2020” - a multilateral naval exercise scheduled to be conducted by the Indian Navy from 18 to 28 Mar 20, at Visakhapatnam, has been postponed taking into consideration the safety of all participants and travel restrictions imposed by the spread of COVID-19,” an official statement said.
“The decision to put off the drill was taken after several navies indicated their inability to take part in the exercise because of new coronavirus cases being detected in different parts of the world. The conduct of “MILAN 2020” had generated a very enthusiastic response, with Navies around the world having expressed their desire to participate and in deference to this interest, the Indian Navy looks forward toward scheduling “MILAN” at a later convenient date,” it added.
The Indian Navy would like to whole heartedly thank the numerous navies from near and far for having accepted invitation to participate in “MILAN 2020”, as also for the unstinted support provided in the run-up to this event,” the statement said.
The countries to whom invitations were sent included: Indonesia, France, Mozambique, Sudan, Israel, Qatar, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Myanmar, New Zealand, the US, Tanzania, Comoros, Maldives, Brunei, Philippines, Japan, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Mauritius, Cambodia, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Kuwait, Iran, Madagascar, Bangladesh, Russia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Bahrain, UAE and Seychelles. Some of the countries invited have reported a rise in coronavirus cases.
“MILAN” is a multilateral naval exercise hosted by the Indian Navy under the aegis of the Andaman and Nicobar Command. It features professional exercises and seminars, social events and sporting.
Apart from the Indian Navy, the navies of Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand participated in the inaugural edition held in 1995. The event has been held biennially except for 2001, 2005, and 2016. The 2001 and 2016 editions were not held because of the International Fleet Review, while the 2005 event was postponed to 2006 due to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Seventeen nations, including India, participated in Milan 2014 making it the biggest edition of the event.The most recent edition of Milan was held at Port Blair from 6 March-13 March 2018. Sixteen foreign nations participated in the event.
Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]