NEW DELHI: India and Thailand on Wednesday began the 31st edition of Coordinated Patrols or CORPAT, aimed at reinforcing maritime links between the two countries and keeping a vital part of the Indian Ocean safe and secure for international trade.

This is the first of a biannual exercise, the Indian Navy said in a statement.

The Indian Navy’s Saryu, an indigenously built Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel and His Majesty’s Thailand Ship (HTMS) Krabi, an Offshore Patrol Vessel, along with Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft from both navies are participating in the CORPAT, the statement said.

“CORPAT builds up understanding and interoperability between navies and facilitates institution of measures to prevent and suppress unlawful activities like Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, maritime terrorism, armed robbery and piracy," the Indian Navy said.

“It further helps enhance the operational synergy by exchange of information for prevention of smuggling, illegal immigration and for conduct of SAR operations at sea," it said.

As part of the Indian government’s vision of SAGAR or “Security And Growth for All in the Region," the Indian Navy has been “proactively engaging with the countries in the Indian Ocean Region towards enhancing regional maritime security, the Indian statement said.

This has been through bilateral and multilateral exercises, coordinated patrols, joint exclusive economic zone surveillance and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations.

“The Indian Navy and Royal Thai Navy have especially enjoyed a close and friendly relationship covering a wide spectrum of activities and interactions, which have strengthened over the years," the Indian statement said.

India and Thailand share friendly ties with both being members of the Bay of Bengal grouping of seven countries that brings South Asian and Thailand and Myanmar from South East Asia under one umbrella. Thailand is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India is one of the several countries that attends the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting plus that includes the ASEAN and its dialogue partners. India has been a dialogue partner of the ASEAN since 1990s.