India, US, Japan naval exercise kicks off Wednesday

April 28th, 2009 - 8:42 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) The tri-nation naval exercise Malabar between Indian, US and Japanese navies will kick off Wednesday off the coast of Okinawa in Japan, a naval official said here Tuesday.
Ships, aircraft and submarines from the US, Japan and India will take part in the 2009 edition of the exercise from April 28 to May 3.

“After participating in the Chinese international fleet review, the Indian naval ships have reached Okinawa to participate in the Malabar exercise,” the official said.

The Malabar exercise series has been a bilateral exercise between the US and Indian navies and has created a lot of criticism from the Left parties. This year, the Indian Navy also invited the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force to participate.

“We look forward to this opportunity to work with the very professional maritime forces of India and Japan,” Commander of US 7th Fleet Vice Admiral John Bird said in an official statement.

“Malabar gives us the chance to build greater interoperability with two of our most important regional partners,” he added.

The exercise intend to increase interoperability among the Indian, Japanese and US maritime forces to develop a common understanding and procedures for maritime operations.

The at-sea training will include anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare manoeuvres, gunnery training, air defence and visit, board, search and seizure. The participants will also conduct personnel exchanges and professional discussions at sea and ashore.

The US will be represented by 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), guided missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS Chafee (DDG 90) and fast-attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21), along with various P-3C and SH-60 aircraft.

Operating in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, the US 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed US fleets, covering 48 million square miles and with approximately 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft, and 40,000 sailors and marines assigned at any time.

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