The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Indian Navy (IN) conducted the annual Singapore-Indian Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) from 31 October to 5 November 2016. Hosted by the IN, the land phase of SIMBEX 2016 was held at Visakhapatnam Naval Base in India, while the sea phase was held in the Bay of Bengal.
It will come as no surprise that when CNN listed the top 50 dishes in the world in 2017, a whopping four of them were from Singapore. We are a foodie nation, and proud of it.
But we’re also a vulnerable nation, one where over 90% of our food is imported. And how does most of that food arrive to our shores? By sea. As Dr Paul Teng, a food security expert and professor at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies told Today, “Supermarkets are full of food… (but) Singapore (becomes) very vulnerable when there are major disturbances to the production of food.” If something were to disrupt sea traffic, our pantries could look a lot emptier.
So would our hawker centres. Most of our beloved national dishes rely on ingredients that are imported by sea. That means without sea trade, our hawker centres would stand empty, decimating Singapore’s food landscape.
The exercise underscores the warm and long-standing defence ties between both countries. The RSN's Commanding Officer of 185 Squadron, Colonel (COL) Aaron Beng, who was in India to visit the Eastern Naval Command, highlighted that SIMBEX 2016 would reinforce the strong relationship between the RSN and the IN. "This exercise will strengthen the strong and long-standing bonds between our two navies, enhancing interoperability as well as mutual understanding and trust between our sailors," said COL Beng.
This year's SIMBEX is the 23rd instalment in the series of bilateral exercises conducted by the RSN and the IN since 1994. Over the years, SIMBEX has grown in scope and complexity, expanding beyond its traditional emphasis on anti-submarine warfare to incorporate elements of maritime security, anti-air and anti-surface warfare. Apart from SIMBEX, the two navies also interact regularly through a range of activities, including professional exchange programmes, staff talks and training courses.