New Delhi: The Indian Navy, in collaboration with Indian Coast Guard, Cochin Port Trust and all other concerned stake holders, conducted a large scale Anti Hijacking Exercise off the Port of Kochi on 18 Dec 19. This was the first time that such a large scale exercise involving all stake holders has been conducted in Kerala. The Exercise code named “Apharan” saw participation of multiple agencies, including more than 12 ships and helicopters of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and Cochin Port Trust. As part of the scenario, interdiction of a ‘rogue’ vessel outside Kochi port and insertion of Marine Commandos onto the rogue/hijacked vessel through boarding operations, as well as slithering down onto its deck from a Sea King helicopter, were exercised.
The Exercise ‘Apharan’ was aimed at streamlining the response mechanism/ preparedness to thwart any attempt by Anti-National Elements to hijack a merchant vessel or attempt forced entry of a rogue/commandeered merchant vessel into Kochi harbour. Within the ambit of Coastal Security architecture, hijacking of a merchant vessel is one of the challenging scenarios, response to which requires synergy of resources, assets and efforts of all stake holders including the State Govt.
The exercise was conducted under the aegis of the Commander-in-Chief, Coastal Defence (Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command), Kerala. The exercise provided an opportunity to all stakeholders to assess the preparedness of their respective organisations, identify gaps to address them on priority as well as to formulate an integrated Crisis Management Plan for Kochi Port.