USS Cole in India!

Remember the USS Cole? The famous American destroyer that was almost destroyed by an Al Qaeda suicide boatman in Aden in 2000 as part of the millenium attack plots? Well, she's in Indian waters now off the coast of Goa, and here for the Konkan 08 joint maritime operations exercise between the Indian and Royal navies as an embedded unit, taking a break from her deployment off Lebanon.

Ships have begun moving out for the Arabian Sea exercise, which begins tomorrow and continues till May 2. The Royal Navy's flag-ship for the exercise is the light aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious with six Merlin helicopters, guided missile frigate HMS Westminster, fleet replenishment tanker RFA Wave Knight, the afloat stores ship RFA Fort Austin and the hunter-killer submarine HMS Trafalgar. Embedded along with the Cole is French La Fayette-class frigate Surcouf.

The Indian Navy will field destroyers INS Mysore and Rajput, missile frigate INS Gomati, Class-209 attack submarine INS Shishumar and fleet tanker INS Aditya.

The exercise is to be conducted under the command of Western fleet commander Rear Admiral Anil Chopra. The British Force is to be commanded by Commodore Tom Cunningham RN, Commander Carrier Strike Group, who will be embarked on HMS Illustrious.

According to a press release from the British High Commission, "During the exercises at sea, the major thrust will be on combined maritime operations, with the Indian Navy’s Sea Harrier aircraft operating from Goa, and exercises between the submarines of the two navies. Other aspects of the exercise include intermediate and advanced Anti-Submarine Warfare, Maritime Interdiction Operations, VBSS (Visit, Board, Search and Seizure) procedures, Naval Gunfire Support, Clearance Diving and tactical manoeuvres."

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