Amidst heavy downpour, the naval ships of United States India and Japan
came in a formation off the Chennai coast sending out a signal we are together
as the trilateral Malabar exercises came to a close on July 17.
USS Nimitz of the U.S., India’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, and
Japan’s helicopter carrier and its largest warship JS Izumo, came up side by
side in a symbolic gesture, with smaller ships in the group following suit as
curtains went down for the week long exercises both sea and Chennai harbour
Malabar 2017 exercise featuring 95 aircraft, 16 ships and two submarines,
making it one of the largest naval exercises in the region in recent times came
at a time when relations between all the three participating nations and China
Right from the start Navy officials on record dismissed suggestions that
the exercise was aimed at China. They maintained that the operation was to
uphold freedom of movement, enforce the rule of law, and address common
maritime challenges in the region.
“We are increasing interoperability and that is going to be the key,” Rear
Admiral William D. Byrne Jr. Commander, Carrier Strike Group, 11, U.S. Navy,
told reporters on board the U.S. aircraft carrier. A floating mini-city with
5,000 personnel on board, USS Nimitz is nuclear powered and has desalination
plants for its water requirements. It is capable of operating about 90 aircraft
at a time, an official on board the ship said.
“Perhaps in the future, if we have to come together for real — be it for a
disaster relief effort or an anti-piracy operation or, God forbid, if there is
an actual crisis in the Indian Ocean, the Japanese would come to assist, the US
Navy would come to assist and because of Malabar, we will know each other
better, we will be able to cooperate better, and meet any maritime challenges
we might face,” Mr. Byrne said.
Rear Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta, Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Fleet,
Indian Navy, said complex operations were performed during this edition of the
exercise and they were beneficial to all the three countries. We have conducted
exercises in all dimensions of warfare — from anti-submarine to anti-surface
The U.S. Charge D’Affaires, Marykay L. Carlson said Malabar 2017 was a
message for the whole world about cooperation, and not specifically aimed at
any one country.
Over the past few days, the three Navies have undertaken a series of
operations, including cross-deck flying operations that require a high level of
interoperability, communication and coordination. India’s MiG 29K fighter jets
and the US’ F-18 fighter aircraft undertook composite formation flying to
INS Jyoti, undertook replenishment operations at sea with the USS Shoup,
and Sazanami of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force, passing hoses to the
U.S. and Japanese Navies for transfer of oil.
Preparations for the next edition of the tri-nation naval exercise will
begin soon, Mr. Dasgupta said.