US Navy chief Admiral John Richardson will start a three-day visit to India beginning Sunday to meet his counterpart and other senior officers to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two navies against the backdrop of China flexing its muscle in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
The 12-14 May visit will be Richardson's second visit to India as the Chief of Naval Operations. The visit comes days after two Indian naval ships joined hands with the navies of the US, the Philippines and Japan a “ Group Sail" through the disputed South China Sea.
In a statement, the US Navy said that the visit "aims to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two navies by emphasising the importance of information sharing and exchange".
"The strategic environment is becoming more complex and the nature of our shared challenges requires frequent discussion of our views of the maritime domain and how best our two navies can operate in line with our respective objectives," it said.
The Indo-Pacific is a vast geographical swathe is land and ocean that includes countries starting from the east coast of Africa to the west coast of the US including the contested South China Sea. China claims almost the entire South China Sea, while Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan are also claimants.
The US has conducted a series of "freedom of navigation" exercises in the South China Sea, triggering protests from Beijing over what it says is infringement of sovereignty.
The Indian navy regularly conducts port calls in Singapore and Vietnam besides other countries in the region.