The second edition of Konkan, which is the name given to the generic series of exercises between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy, commenced off the coast of Goa on 17 May 2006 and was concluded in Mumbai with a debrief on 29 May 2006.
From the Indian side, the exercise comprised three surface combatants (INS Mumbai, INS Brahmaputra and INS Ganga), one submarine (INS Shankush), one replenishment tanker (INS Shakti) and a variety of fixed & rotary wing aircraft. The participating Indian units was under the tactical command of the FOCWF (Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet), Rear Admiral Anup Singh. His counterpart from the Royal Navy was Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti. The RN task force comprised of aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (with her own air group), the guided-missile destroyer HMS Gloucester, the fleet replenishment tanker RFA Fort Victoria, the submarine support ship RFA Diligence and the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Sovereign. In conformance with current practice, the Royal Navy task force had one French frigate - FS Surcouf - embedded within it.
One of the major thrust-areas was DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) and COMAO (Combined Maritime Air Operations) between the IN's Sea Harrier Frs Mk.51 aircraft operating from INS Hansa in Dabolim, Goa and the RN's Harrier GR.7A aircraft operating of HMS Illustrious. Other aspects that were exercised by the two navies included, intermediate and advanced ASW (Anti-submarine Warfare), MIO (Maritime Interdiction Operations), NGS (Naval Gunfire Support) and VBSS (Visit, Board, Search & Seizure) procedures and tactical maneuvers. Some of the firsts of this exercise included combined maritime air operations by Sea Harrier Frs Mk.51 and Harrier GR.7A aircraft, cross-deck operations by Sea Harrier Frs Mk.51s from the deck of HMS Illustrious and flying demonstrations by the Red Arrows of the Royal Air Force (RAF).
The Konkan series of joint exercises between the Indian and the Royal navies commenced in 2004 and has grown both in scope & complexity over the years. These exercises have been hugely successful in facilitating mutual learning and interoperability between the two navies. These skills would stand both countries in good stead in several facets of naval activities, such as disaster-management. The exercise also incorporated harbour-based professional, social and sports interaction between the two navies. The Indian Navy lays great stress on enhancing bilateral ties and improving mutual understanding and interoperability with foreign navies through professional and operational interaction. The exercise provided an opportunity to showcase Indian naval ship-building capability through the participation of indigenously-built, front-line warships such as INS Brahmaputra, INS Mumbai and INS Ganga. Konkan 2006 was a significant indicator of the continuing & growing co-operation between India and United Kingdom.
The Royal Navy flotilla that took part in Konkan 2006, with their respective commanding officers;
• HMS Illustrious RO6 - Commanding Officer: Commodore Robert Cooling, Strike Group Commander
• RFA Fort Victoria A387 - Commanding Officer: Captain William M Walworth
• HMS Gloucester D96 - Commanding Officer: Commander Mike P Paterson
• RFA Diligence A132 - Commanding Officer: Captain Shaun P Jones
• FS Surcouf F711 - Commanding Officer: Captain Laurent Hava
• HMS Sovereign S108 - Commanding Officer: Not Known
Images © Vishnu Som