KARACHI – Multinational naval exercise ‘Aman 2017’ organised by Pakistan Army has been kicked off in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Karachi here on today (Friday).

The exercise is the fifth such exercise in which 37 countries, including Pakistan, will take part. Nine of the visitors — Australia, China, Indonesia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and Russia — are participating with naval assets.

What perturbs Pakistan’s quintessential rivals regarding the historic exercise is the fact that Russia is participating in exercise for the first time as pakistan is exploring new friends around the world.

A contingent of Russian ground forces also participated in first ever joint Pak-Russian exercise in September last year despite reports by Indian media that Russian forces would not be arriving in Pakistan.

On Thursday, the US Navy arrived with USS Amelia Earhart (oiler), USCGS Maui, USCGC Aquidneck and USS Typhoon. while Russia arrived with Severomorsk (ASW), Altay (tugboat) and Dubna (tanker).

China made an entry with Harbin DDG 112, Handan FFG 575 and Dongphingu AO 960.

Sri Lanka came with SLS Samudra. Turkey also joined in with TCG Gelibolu, the UK brought HMS Daring and Indonesia came with KRI Sultan Iskandarmuda.

Australia is participating with HMAS Arunta and Japan with two P3C Orion aircraft, Dawn News reported.

The visiting ships upon their arrival were given a rousing welcome by senior Pakistan Navy officials along with Officials of the consulates of the visiting countries.

Themed ‘Together for peace’, the joint naval exercise has helped clear the Arabian Sea of pirates, Commander Pakistan Fleets Vice Admiral Syed Arifullah Hussaini told a press conference in Karachi.

“These exercises help the participating countries come together and further their relations,” he added.

The exercise will feature harbour and sea phases, during which participants will witness a variety of drills, where participants will witness a variety of exercises, including search and rescue operations, gunnery drills, anti-piracy demonstrations, replenishment at sea and maritime counter-terrorism demonstrations.

‘Aman-17’ will include ships, aircraft, helicopters, Special Operations Forces (SOF), Explosives Ordinance Disposal (EOD), marine teams and observers from regional as well extra-regional navies.

Last year, four Iranian Naval Ships – Lavan, Konarak, Falakhen and Khanjar – joined the ‘Aman-16’ drills.

Pakistan has held Aman naval exercises every alternate year since 2007. The exercises aim to demonstrate the allied nations’ capabilities to fight terrorism and other maritime threats, as well as to provide a platform for participants to hone their skills and build cooperation and friendship to promote peace and stability.