Warships head home, bid adieu to Visakhapatnam

Visakhapatnam, Feb 10 (IANS) As the International Fleet Review concluded, the massive warships lined off the Visakhapatnam coast bid adieu to the coastal city in an impressive and first ever Passage Exercise (PASSEX).

The 54 foreign and Indian ships that were anchored for review by President Pranab Mukherjee sailed out of Visakhapatnam on Tuesday evening.

As per the maritime tradition, visiting foreign ships are generally escorted to the open seas on their way home.

“The PASSEX was aimed at fostering greater cooperation and camaraderie with friendly foreign navies, increasing interoperability, providing the requisite operational element to IFR,” a Navy official said on Wednesday.

The Passage Exercise was conducted in two groups, centred on Indian Naval aircraft carriers – INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat.

The ships sailed out in two groups of 27 ships each, with the first group under the command of Rear Admiral Ravneet Singh, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, on board aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

The second group was under the command of Rear Admiral S.V. Bhokare, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet embarked on board the aircraft carrier INS Viraat and included manoeuvres and flying operations.

A ceremonial steam-past, wherein Indian and foreign warships sailed past each other in formation, provided an opportunity for participants to bid adieu to fellow seafarers and marked the finale of the exercise.

The flying operations included landing of a helicopter from Royal British Navy ship HMS Defender on board INS Viraat to commemorate the historic association of the aircraft carrier with the Royal Navy.

“The unprecedented scale and scope of the PASSEX are indicative of India’s growing stature in the maritime domain and the bridges that have been painstakingly built by the Indian Navy towards achieving the motto of the International Fleet Review in letter and spirit – ‘United through Oceans’,” the official added.

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