Indo-US Navy exercise begins near Port Blair

New Delhi, Jan 5 (ANI): Indian naval divers on Wednesday began joint exercises with their American counterparts off Port Blair in the Andaman Sea.

The Indian Navy's survey ship INS Nireekshak, and USS Safeguard, a specialised salvage vessel, are participating in the exercise.

The aim of the exercise is to strengthen capability in niche techniques associated with diving and salvage.

During the weeklong exercise, various specialist salvage techniques will be practiced jointly by divers of both navies.

Among the notable salvage techniques to be demonstrated are operation of underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and side scan sonasrs launched from the USS Safeguard and demonstration of hot tap equipment - used for removing fuel from the tanks of sunken vessels.

During Operation SALVEX, the divers will also hone their salvage skills on a 'Mud Monster', a pontoon specially built and sunk to practice salvage and diving exercises.

The maiden IN-USN SALVEX was conducted in 2005. SALVEX series of exercises have been conducted annually thereafter alternately in India and in US Pacific locations.

Interestingly in the first SALVEX a vintage Sea Hawk fighter aircraft was recovered from a depth of about 50 metres off Kochi. IN Salvage teams have also recovered a Seaking helicopter from a depth of 70 metres in the past.

INS Nireekshak is the Indian Navy's specialist diving support ship with the capacity to support dives upto 300 metres depth. USS Safeguard is a Safeguard class auxilliary rescue and salvage ship.

In this edition of SALVEX, the Indian Navy's team comprises 17 Clearance Divers including two officers and the US Navy's team comprises 15 divers including two officers.

Indian Navy's divers have time and again demonstrated their diving professionalism by rescue of men and salvage of material in adverse and treachorous conditions in waters as varied as fast flowing rivers, freezing lakes and ponds and waters with virtually nil visibility. (ANI)

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