Vice Admiral Bisht, Rear Admiral William D Byrne and Vice admiral Yamamura
of the Japanese navy took few questions on board the Indian naval vessel
Jalashwa after launching the harbor phase of the Malabar exercise on July 10.
The conference venue inside the ship resembled a football field. Majority of
questions related to China factor in the naval exercise.
Vice Admiral H C S Bisht who formally declared the exercise open described
it as a joint attempt to address common challenges and address shared threats.
He said each round of exercises helps the participant navies to advance the
level of understanding of the participating personnel while warding off volley
of questions on the China factor. He merely said the exercises were planned
nearly an year ago (when there was no Chinese issue in the horizon).
When asked about the unusual presence of the Chinese naval vessels in the
Indian Ocean Region for the past two months including a spy vessel, Vice
Admiral Bisht said there are many extra regional ships in the region and the
navy has the mechanism to monitor them.
The current exercise on sea board will focus on submarine tracking. Three
aircraft carriers USS Nimitz of the US Navy, INS Vikramaditya of the Indian
navy and J S Izumo of the Japanese Maritime Self defense force will take part
in Malabar exercises 2017.
In addition a large contingent of 16 ships, 95 aircrafts including a number
of fighter jets and two submarines will take part in the war games in
international waters off the Chennai Coast during the sea phase which begins on
July 14. The sea phase exercises will last for three days.
Indian navy will be represented by aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya with
its air wing guided missile destroyer Ranvir, indigenous stealth frigates
Shivalik and Sahyadri, indigenous ASVV Corvette Karnorta, Missile Corvettes
Kora and Kirpan, a Sindhughosh class submarine, fleet tanker INS Jyoti and a
Long range Maritime patrol aircraft P 81.
The US Navy will be represented by the ships from the Nimitz Carrier Strike
group and other units of the US Seventh fleet. Apart from Nimitz, the other US
naval ships which will participate in the exercise include Ticonderoga class
cruiser Princeton, Arieigh Burke class destroyers Kidd, Howard and Shoup along
with integral helicopters, a Los Angeles class attack submarine and a long
range Maritime patrol aircraft P8A.
The exercise will also witness a separate interaction between Indian and
USN Special Forces and explosive Ordinance disposal teams at the IN Marcos
Training base INS Karna, at Visakhapatnam. The Japanese force will be represented
by JS Izumo, a helicopter carrier with SH 60 K helicopters and JS Sazanami, a
missile destroyer and SH 60 K integral helicopter.
The joint fleet deployed by the three navies is significant in its size and
timing given the fact the Chinese are flexing their muscles in the Bay of
Bengal, Indian Ocean region and South China Sea
Malabar Exercises were planned in early 1990s by US and India to give
latter a regional role in the crucial seas from Arabian Sea to Malacca straits
through which energy requirement of US allies South Korea and Japan pass
through. Both the US allies depend entirely on Persian Gulf countries for their
energy requirement. Japan joined the exercises last year.
The primary aim of the exercise is to increase the interoperability among
the three navies as well as develop common understanding and procedures for
maritime security operations.
The thrust of the exercise at sea this year would be on Aircraft carrier
operations, air defense, anti submarine warfare, surface warfare, Visit Board
Search and seizure, Search and rescue and tactical procedures
It is ironic but true that the US Seventh fleet moved towards the
Chittagong port way back in 1971 in supportof the Pakistani adventure in the then East Bengal.. The
decision to dispatch the US fleet was taken by the then US President R Nixon.
Much water has flown in Bay of Bengal since then that India and US navies have
decided to stand together to defend the seas of the area.