New Delhi: Naval ships from India, US and Japan are all set to kickstart the Malabar exercise, set to take place off Okinawa island in Japan.
The exercise scheduled to take place from June 9 to 17 is a bilateral exercise between India and US with Japan as a permanent partner. The exercise is to focus on anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction operations and air-defense training, said officials.
An official statement from the US embassy in New Delhi called it a "high-end warfighting exercises conducted to advance multi-national maritime relationships and mutual security issues."
The Indian fleet participating in the exercise consists of indigenous guided missile stealth frigates INS Satpura and Sahyadri, commanded by Captain AN Pramod and Captain KS Rajkumar respectively, INS Shakti, a sophisticated fleet support ship, commanded by Captain Gagan Kaushal and INS Kirch, an indigenous guided missile corvette commanded by Commander Sharad Sinsunwal.
The Indian Navy said on Thursday that the Indian ships are steaming towards Japan with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships and will enter Sasebo on Friday.
Participants from the US Navy include the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis with embarked Carrier Air Wing 9, the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay and guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale, USS William P. Lawrence and USS Chung-Hoon; a P-8A Poseidon aircraft; and a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine.
From the Japanese side, the fleet include Hyuga - a new helicopter carrier, patrol aircraft such as the P-3C Orion and rescue aircraft like the US-2i ShinMaywa amphibious aircraft.
The exercise will feature both ashore and at-sea training.
While ashore in Sasebo, training will include subject matter experts and professional exchanges on Carrier Strike Group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare, medical operations, damage control, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), helicopter operations, and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations, a statement from US embassy said.
The at-sea portions of the exercise will be conducted in the Philippine Sea and are designed to advance participating nations` military-to-military coordination and capacity to plan and execute tactical operations in a multinational environment.
"Events planned during the at-sea portions include liaison officer professional exchanges and embarks; a photo exercise; submarine familiarization; high-value unit defense; air defense exercises; medical evacuation drills; surface warfare exercises; communications exercises; search and rescue exercises; helicopter cross-deck evolutions; underway replenishments; gunnery exercises; VBSS exercises; and anti-submarine warfare," the statement said.
"Indian, Japanese and US maritime forces have a common understanding and knowledge of a shared working environment at sea. Each iteration of this exercise helps to advance the level of understanding between the navies` sailors, and is a continuing process over time," the statement said.
"Members of the Indo-Asia-Pacific nations utilize their maritime forces as natural partners, and continue to strengthen relationships," it added.
The first phase of the exercise which will be on shore will be from June 10-13, at Sasebo in Japan. The second phase, which is the sea phase will be from June 14-17. off Okinawa island.
The island is roughly 640 km south of the rest of Japan, around the same distance off the coast of China.