Over 20 nations take part in French maritime exercise in Seychelles
The exercise brought together naval officers not only to share information but also to participate in various exercises. (SBC YouTube)
Information sharing and coordination were the focus of an Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Maritime Exercise (MEX) organised in Seychelles by France with the participation of over 20 nations that border the Indian Ocean.
The exercise, which started on Tuesday, brought together naval officers not only to share information but also to participate in various exercises related to maritime security.
Also participating in the exercise was a delegation from the Indian frigate INS Sharda.
The exercise was organised in partnership and support of the Seychelles Defence Forces, especially the Seychelles Coast Guard. It included a table-top exercise at the Military Training and Support Centre and a cocktail reception onboard the French Naval ship, "NIVOSE," on Thursday evening.
In her address at the cocktail reception, the French Ambassador to Seychelles, Olivia Berkeley-Christmann, said that the presence of the participants is testimony to an ongoing dialogue between naval personnel.
"It is often said that naval personnel, even from different countries, have more in common than their own country's land or air forces. You only have to see yourselves gathered here this evening to be convinced," she added.
The ambassador spoke about the increasing challenges in the Indian Ocean, such as illegal fishing, climate change, piracy, illegal trafficking of all kinds, maritime safety, accidents, and pollution.
"The special ties that you are forging today between the naval personnel of the Indian Ocean should enable us to manage future crises at sea with each other, all together: assistance to ships in difficulty, search and rescue, management of an oil spill or a natural disaster," said Berkeley-Christmann.
The chief of the Seychelles Defence Forces, Brigadier Michael Rosette, said officers from Seychelles have learned a lot and gained valuable experience.
"I believe our contact with other countries in the Indian Ocean will bring a lot of benefit to us, as we know where we can knock on doors to get assistance," said Rosette.
He added that these countries will also benefit from a software created by the EU, which Indian Ocean nations have been allowed to use to communicate and plan various operations.
"After this symposium, we continue to work with all these countries in the region, and where there are any incidents, we will be able to communicate and share our experiences with each other," added Rosette.