New Delhi, Jan 04 (Agencies): Aiming to strengthen their capabilities in techniques associated with diving and salvage, navies of India and the US will hold a week-long joint exercise codenamed 'SALVEX' off the coast off Andaman and Nicobar Islands starting on Wednesday.

In the exercise, Indian Navy's diving tender INS Nireekshak and USS Safeguard, a specialised Salvage ship are participating.

During the exercise, the Indian Navy will also gain experience of working on underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and side scan SONARs being launched from USS Safeguard, Navy officials said here.

It will also witness the operation of Hot Tap Equipment, which is used for removal of oil or fuel from tanks of sunken vessels.

In the exercise, the Indian Navy team comprises 17 Clearance Divers including two officers and the US Navy team comprises 15 divers including two officers.

During the exercise, divers of the two sides will also hone their salvage skills on 'Mud Monster'-- a pontoon specially built and sunk to practice salvage and diving exercises.

India is one of the four countries in the world having the capability to dive up to the depths of 300 metres into the sea.

INS Nireekshak is Indian Navy's specialist diving support ship with the capacity to support dives up to 300 metres deep. USS Safeguard is a Safeguard class auxilliary rescue and salvage ship.

The maiden SALVEX was conducted in 2005 and the series of exercises have been conducted annually thereafter alternately in India and US Pacific locations.

Interestingly in the first SALVEX a vintage Sea Hawk fighter aircraft was recovered from a depth of about 50 metres off Kochi.

India and US Navy engage each other in the annual Malabar series of wargames also.