This is the first time that navies of all the four 'Quad' countries are participating in a naval exercise together
The Indian Naval team in the exercises will be led by Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet
NEW DELHI: Warships from India, Australia, Japan and the US will converge in the Bay of Bengal next week for the first leg of the two phased Malabar naval exercises, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.
This is the first time that navies of all the four “Quad" countries are participating in a naval exercise together. It comes amid a tense military standoff between India and China along their Himalayan border. China views the “Quad" with suspicion and has denounced it as an attempt by the US to cobble up an “Asian NATO" or North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
The development follows India green lighting the participation of Australia in the naval exercises that first started in 1992 with the Indian and US navies and included the Japanese navy in 2015. New Delhi had previously kept on hold calls by the US and Japan and also from Australia to include the Australian Navy in the Malabar exercises. And this was seen in deference to Chinese sensitivities.
“The 24th edition of the Naval exercise is scheduled in two phases in November 2020. Phase 1 of the Exercise Malabar 20 involving participation by Indian Navy (IN), United States Navy (USN), Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF), and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is set to commence off Visakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal from 3-6 November 2020," the person cited above said.
“The 2020 edition will now witness participation of the RAN in this joint maritime exercise," the person said.
“Phase-1 of MALABAR 20 will witness participation of Indian Navy units with USN Ship USS John S McCain (Guided-missile destroyer), RAN Ship HMAS Ballarat (long range frigate) with integral MH-60 helicopter, and JMSDF Ship JS Onami (Destroyer) with integral SH-60 helicopter," the person said.
The Indian Naval team in the exercises will be led by Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet.
Indian Navy units participating in the exercise include destroyer Ranvijay, frigate Shivalik, Off Shore Patrol Vessel Sukanya, Fleet Support Ship Shakti and submarine Sindhuraj.
“In addition, Advanced Jet Trainer Hawk, long-range maritime patrol aircraft P-8I, Dornier maritime patrol aircraft, and helicopters will also be participating in the exercise," the person said.
The exercise, being conducted as a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ exercise in view of the covid-19 pandemic, “will showcase the high-levels of synergy and coordination between the friendly navies, which is based on their shared values and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order," the person said.
“Malabar Phase 1 would witness complex and advanced naval exercises including surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations, cross deck flying, seamanship evolutions and weapon firing exercises," the person said.
Phase 2 of Malabar 20 is scheduled to be conducted in the Arabian Sea in mid-November 2020, the person added.
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