New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) India and Thailand began a joint naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal that will involve air exercises with integral helicopters from ships of both nations, defence officials said here on Saturday.The five-day exercise commenced off the port of Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on Friday.Two naval ships of Thailand - UMS Sin Phyu Shin (F-14), a frigate and UMS Tabinshweti (773), a corvette - have been deployed for the exercise. India has deployed its ships INS Ranvijay, a guided-missile destroyer and INS Kuthar, a missile corvette, for the exercise along with the two Thai ships.The opening ceremony of the exercise, which is being conducted for the second time, was held on board INS Ranvijay at Visakhapatnam on Friday. Upon arrival in Vishakhapatnam, the Thai crew called on Eastern Naval Commander Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain.The harbour phase of the exercise which will continue till 19 October will involve professional interaction for sharing of expertise on various maritime issues between both the navies.The sea phase will be held from October 20 to 22. This phase will involve a variety of drills including anti-air and surface firing exercises, flying exercises using integral helicopters and seamanship evolutions at sea."The joint exercises this year have increased in scope and complexity and is a testimony of growing maritime cooperation between the two navies," said a statement from the Indian Navy.The Thai fleet is led by Fleet Commander Captain Tet Lwin Tun.
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