Panaji: With an eye on support for its Antartica research operations, India will look towards its BRICS partners, Brazil and South Africa, for security and cooperation. Naval sources say that India is increasingly relying on South Africa and Brazil due to the proximity of these two nations to the cold continent in the southern hemisphere.

“Brazil is the biggest player in that region. We must also realize that in case we need help in Antartica, South Africa and Brazil are the closest,” a senior naval official told Times of India.

In order to build stronger ties with its BRICS allies, the navies of the three nations have commenced a 10-day joint naval exercise, ‘Ibsamar’, off the western coast with a thrust on anti-submarine warfare, insertion of special forces and tactical procedures.

The fifth edition of the trilateral naval exercises is being held for the first time in India and off the coast of Goa. Indian naval officials described the ties between the three navies as “maturing” as ‘Ibsamar’ will include for the first time a submarine, marine commandoes and fighter aircraft.

“Naval cooperation between Brazil, India and South Africa epitomizes the strong long-term strategic relationship between the three democracies and vibrant economies,” flag officer Goa area rear admiral Puneet Kumar Bahl said.

Two warships and a submarine of the Indian Navy will join Brazilian naval vessel ‘Amazonas’ and South African naval ship ‘SAS Spioenkop’ for ‘Ibsamar 2016’. Destroyer ‘INS Mumbai’, frigate ‘INS Trishul’ and and ‘INS Shalki’, a Shishumar-class submarine berthed at Mormugao port trust.

The three navies completed the harbour phase of the exercise and will slip out of their moorings to carry out a diverse range of operational activities at sea including anti-submarine warfare, surface firings, air defence, visit board search and seizure, flying operations, and simulated search and rescue operations.

Though the three nations are not in the same neighbourhood, Bahl pointed out that unconventional modern-day threats like terror attacks, drug menace, gun-running and piracy were common to all nations and that the three navies could learn from each other.

Fast attack craft, sea harriers, Mig 29K fighter aircraft, Dornier aircraft and helicopters are participating in the trilateral exercise. The naval ship ‘Amazonas’ is commanded by commander Alessander Felipe Imamura Carneiro, while the South African naval ship ‘SAS Spioenkop’ is commanded by captain Michael Boucher. The naval exercises began on February 19 and will conclude on February 29.