Malabar Naval Exercise, which will for the first time in over ten years, see participation of India, United States, Japan and Australia will take place in two phases this year. The first phase will be held in the first week of November in the Bay of Bengal, and the second phase will be held in the Arabian Sea in mid-November.
Navy said in a statement on Friday that the 24th edition of Malabar Naval exercise is “scheduled in two phases in November 2020” and Phase 1 “involving participation by Indian Navy (IN), United States Navy (USN), Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF), and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is set to commence off Visakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal” from November 3 to November 6.
“MALABAR series of maritime exercises commenced in 1992 as a bilateral IN-USN exercise. JMSDF joined MALABAR in 2015. The 2020 edition will now witness participation of the RAN in this joint maritime exercise.” The Navy said.
Australia joining the exercise gains significance as all the four countries are members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the Quad, and it will send a strong message to China, with which India has been involved in a nearly six-month old military standoff in eastern Ladakh.
Phase-1 of Malabar 20, the Navy said, “will witness participation of Indian Navy units with USN Ship USS John S McCain (Guided-missile destroyer), RAN Ship HMAS Ballarat (long range frigate) with integral MH-60 helicopter, and JMSDF Ship JS Onami (Destroyer) with integral SH-60 helicopter”.
Indian Navy’s participation will be led by Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, and will have destroyer Ranvijay, frigate Shivalik, Off-Shore Patrol Vessel Sukanya, Fleet Support Ship Shakti and submarine Sindhuraj as participants. In addition, the Navy mentioned that Advanced Jet Trainer Hawk, long-range maritime patrol aircraft P-8I, Dornier maritime patrol aircraft, and helicopters will also be participating in the exercise.
It will be conducted as a “non-contact, at sea only” exercise keeping the Covid-19 protocols in mind and “will showcase the high-levels of synergy and coordination between the friendly navies, which is based on their shared values and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order,” the Navy said.
The first phase of the exercise, it mentioned, “would witness complex and advanced naval exercises including surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations, cross deck flying, seamanship evolutions and weapon firing exercises”. Phase 2 of Malabar 20 is scheduled to be conducted in the Arabian Sea in mid-November 2020, the Navy said.