Despite reservations from China, the navies of India, US and Japan kick-started the 19th edition of exercise Malabar in the Bay of Bengal. China had protested the participation of Japanese Maritime Self Defence Forces (JMSDF) in the exercise. The exercise, which began Wednesday, will continue till October 19 and is aimed at enhancing the maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region. It assumes significance in light of territorial disputes plaguing the South China Sea, and also because of America’s thrust to rebalance its strategic focus in Asia Pacific.
During Malabar-15, the Indian Navy will be represented by INS Shivalik, an indigenous frigate, INS Ranvijay — a guided missile destroyer, INS Betwa — an indigenous frigate and INS Shakti, a fleet Support Ship. In addition, one Sindhugosh class submarine INS Sindhudhvaj, long-range maritime patrol aircraft P8I and integral rotary wing helicopters are also scheduled to participate in the trilateral exercise.
The US Navy will be represented by the ships from the Carrier Task Force 70 of the USN 7th Fleet, which is based at Yokosuka, Japan. The CTF will include the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Normandy and Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Forth Worth.
In addition to that, one Los Angeles class nuclear-powered submarine USS City of Corpus Christi, F18 aircraft from US Carrier Air Wing and P8A long —range maritime patrol aircraft will also participate in the exercise.
The JMSDF will be represented by JS Fuyuzuki, a missile destroyer with SH 60K integral helicopter.
Malabar-15 is part of the process of aimed at enhancing naval cooperation among important navies of the Indo-Pacific regions. The navies share their best practices to strengthen respective capacities and to help create better synergies for effective and speedy action to deal with challenges.