NEW DELHI-Four Indian warships on Wednesday set sail from Mumbai on a long overseas deployment to East Africa and beyond to build "maritime bridges" with countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

The first port of call for the warships guided-missile destroyer INS Mumbai, stealth frigates INS Talwar and INS Teg, and tanker INS Deepak - will be Antisiranana in Madagascar during the 50-day deployment.

"INS Teg will then separately head for the international waters off Simon's town, the main base of the South African Navy near Cape Town, for the IBSAMAR exercise among India, Brazil and South Africa from October 20 to November 7," said an officer. "Such long-range deployments, covering the IOR and beyond, bear testimony to the Navy's blue-water capabilities. The four warships will be under the

command of Western Fleet chief Rear Admiral R Hari Kumar," he added.

Indian warships usually undertake long-range deployments; both to project power as well as "build bridges of friendship", but the IBSAMAR war games are nevertheless considered a challenging endeavor since the distance from India to South Africa, as also from Brazil to South Africa, is some 4,000 nautical miles.