It was in the year 1999 when the Indian Coast guard received intelligence that a hijacked Japanese ship, the MV Alondra Rainbow was masquerading as MV Mega Rama, in the Arabian Sea. The Coast Guard men stormed the ship and captured the pirates in it, and restored the vessel to the Japanese owners. This act was significant as it created maritime history of such a rescue by a national coast guard. This also brought the Japanese Coast Guard closer to their Indian counterparts, resulting in a series of joint-programs of strategy and information sharing, which included joint-sea exercises over the years.
In 2012, it was the turn of the Japan Coast Guard to bring their ship, Settsu to conduct the joint sea exercise in the Indian waters, the eleventh, this time, between the two nations. The morning of January 29 saw the Japan Coast Guard’s chief, Admiral Hisayasu Suzuki on board the Indian Coast Guard ship Vishwast, to watch the exercise in the high seas off Chennai, where an armada of eleven Indian Coast Guard ships, three helicopters and three planes, participated along with the Settsu and a Japan Coast Guard helicopter. Hosting the Admiral was Indian Coast Guard chief, Vice Admiral MP Muralidharan and Chennai-based Eastern Region Commander, SP Sharma, in the presence of officials of the Singapore Information Sharing Centre of Regional Co-operation Agreement to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea in Asia.
This combined operation demonstrated the rescue of a merchant vessel from pirates, fire-fighting operations, as also postal transfer of mail to ships at sea. The operations, dramatically performed, renewed the ties in regional co-operation and showcased the infrastructure of the Indian forces to protect the nation’s territorial waters, while also helping distressed ships of other nations.
With the world’s ships being menaced by a new generation of Somali pirates, this joint-exercise sends out a stern warning to sea bandits who have ambitions of exercising their influence in Asian waters.