Chennai, July 10 (IANS) The week-long trilateral Malabar naval exercise began on Monday with 16 ships, including many frontline warships, and than 95 aircraft of India, the US and Japan participating in the annual event in the Bay of Bengal.
This is the 21st edition of the exercise, which started as a bilateral exercise between India and US and now has Japan as a permanent member.
“Malabar-17 will be another milestone with participation of 16 ships, two submarines and more than 95 aircraft, towards strengthening mutual confidence and inter-operability as well as sharing of best practices between the Indian, Japanese and US Navies,” a statement from Indian Navy said.
“The exercise is a demonstration of the joint commitment of all three nations to address common maritime challenges across the spectrum of operations and will go a long way in enhancing maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region, for the benefit of the global maritime community.”
The exercise comes amid reports of the presence of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean Region in the name of anti-piracy operations, and Beijing’s aggressive posturing in the South China Sea.
“Naval co-operation between India, US and Japan epitomises the strong and resilient relationship between the three democracies. The Malabar series of exercises, initiated in 1992 between the Indian and US Navies, have steadily grown in scope, complexity and participation into a multifaceted exercise with the participation of Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF),” the Indian Navy said in a statement on Monday.
“The primary aim of this exercise is to increase interoperability amongst the three navies as well as develop common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations,” Indian Navy said.
This year, there are five ships from the US, including aircraft carrier USS Nimitz with Carrier Air Wing 11, a submarine, and P-8A Poseidon aircraft.
India will have seven ships, including aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya with its air wing, guided missile destroyer Ranvir, indigenous stealth frigates Shivalik and Sahyadri, indigenous Anti-submarine Warfare corvette Kamorta, missile corvettes Kora and Kirpan, one Sindhughosh class submarine, fleet tanker INS Jyoti and Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft P8I.
Japan has two ships including helicopter carrier JS Izumo.
The exercise will also witness a separate interaction between the Indian Navy and US Navy Special Forces and Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams at the Indian Navy’s MARCOS training base INS Karna at Visakhapatnam.
The scope of Malabar-17 includes wide-ranging professional interactions during the Harbour Phase at Chennai from July 10-13 July and a diverse range of operational activities at sea during the Sea Phase from July 14-17, the Indian Navy said.
The thrust of exercises at sea this year would be on Aircraft Carrier operations, Air Defence, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Surface Warfare, Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS), Search and Rescue, Joint Manoeuvres and Tactical procedures.
In addition, officials from the three countries will be flown onboard the ships at sea on July 15.
In the past, Australia and Singapore have also participated in the exercise as non-permanent members.
China on Friday expressed hope that the joint naval drill between India, Japan, and the US was not aimed at other countries.