Chennai: As India, US and Japan kickstart their "high-end warfighting" trilateral Naval excerise, their top Navy brass today vowed to ensure free, open and peaceful maritime commerce in Indo-Pacific region, describing the three countries as "indispensable partners" for regional stability.
The Navies of India, the US and Japan yesterday began the five-day exercise 'MALABAR-2015' in Bay of Bengal amid reports that China is carefully monitoring the drill in which several warships, aircraft carriers and fast attack submarine will be seen in action.
Talking to reporters on board INS Shivalik here, senior officials of the three navies agreed that the initiative will help increase inter-operability between them against the backdrop of regional maritime peace.
The three officials reiterated their navies' commitment to ensure free, open and peaceful maritime commerce in the Indo-Pacific region.
Vice-Admiral B K Verma of the Indian Navy said the initiative will help increase inter-operability among the three participating navies.
"Learning doctrinal and operational aspects will go a long way in inter-operability," he said, adding personnel from either side could benefit from exchange of ideas to explore implementing them in their respective countries.
Vice Admiral of Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) Y Murakawa appreciated the Indian Navy for inviting his country to participate in the event, which has been on between India and US since 1992.
Japan is taking part in the exercise for the fourth time. "We are very proud that three navies are further able to improve cooperation...the three navies are indispensable partners for regional stability," he said.
Vice Admiral J P Aucoin of the US Navy said his country had been partnering with India in the Malabar series of exercises since 1992, adding the two shared the common interest of a "stable economic environment" in the region.
He also commended his Japanese counterparts for their "high standards" of professional capabilities and looked forward to their participation in the future, too.
The Indian Navy is represented by INS Shivalik and INS Betwa, both indigenous frigates, guided missile destroyer INS Ranvijay and Fleet support ship INS Shakti.
Submarine INS Sindhudhvaj, Long Range Maritime aircraft P81 and integral rotary wing helicopters will also be part of the exercise.
The US Navy will see ships from Carrier Task Force (CTF) 70 of the USN 7th Fleet, based in Japan, sail the waters along with Indian and Japanese vessels.
The CTF includes Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, cruiser USS Normandy, nuclear-powered submarine USS City of Corpus Christy, and F18 aircraft and P8A long range maritime patrol aircraft.
The JMSDF will be represented by JS Fuyuzuki, a missile destroyer with SH 60K integral helicopter.
"Malabar 2015 is a latest in the continuing series of exercises conducted to advance multi-national maritime relationships and mutual security issues," an official release said while describing the event as as "complex high-end warfighting" exercise.
A recent write-up in the state-run Xinhua news agency has observed that Washington is "pushing for making the 'Malabar' naval exercises between India and the U.S. into a trilateral framework to involve Japan as a permanent participant."