Chennai: The ongoing six-day Malabar joint naval exercise by India, the US and Japan is not targeted at any country but is aimed at increasing maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region, Vice Admiral Y Murakawa of the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) said here on Thursday.
Queried about the China’s objection to the exercise, which commenced on Wednesday, in Vice Admiral Murakawa: “As far as this exercise is concerned, it is not targeted at any country,” adding that Japan was participating in the exercise to create free oceans for commerce.
China is claiming rights over South China Sea, which is being objected to by several nations, including Japan.
The naval exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the Indian and US navies and was expanded to include Japan.
This year it is held in the Bay of Bengal.
Murakawa said India and Japan have signed agreement for defence cooperation and the joint naval exercise is meant to improve tactical capability and increase cooperation.
According to Vice Admiral B K Verma of the Indian navy, Japan is participating in the exercise for the fifth time.
“We participate to keep the sas open for commerce,” Vice Admiral Verma added.
Queried about the learnings for the navies from the past editions of Malabar, he said it improves inter-operability, sharing of best practices and helps in disaster relief operations.
He said the joint naval exercise is one forum of interaction between the participating navies.
Rear Admiral S V Bhokare said such exercises enable the naval personnel to participate in other naval exercises in a easy manner.
According to Vice Admiral J P Aucoin the joint exercises would develop better relationship and partnership among the navies.
The thrust of exercises at sea this year would be on anti-submarine warfare, surface firings, air defence, visit board search and seizure, search and rescue and tactical procedures, the Indian navy said.
During this year’s event, Indian navy will be represented by INS Shivalik an indigenous frigate, INS Ranvijay, a guided missile destroyer, INS betwa an indigenous frigate and INS Shaki, a fleet support ship.
In addition one Sindhugosh class submarine INS Sindhudhvaj, long range maritime patrol aircraft P81 and integral rotary wing helicopter are also scheduled to participate in Malabar 15.
The US navy will be represented by Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Teeodore Roosevelt, Ticonderoga class cruiser USS Normandy and Freedom class littoral combat ship USS Forth Worth.
One Los Angeles class nuclear powered submarine USS City of Corpus Christi, F18 aircraft and P8A long range maritime patrol aircraft will also participate.
The JMSDF will have its JS Fuyuzuki a missile destroyer with SH 60K integral helicopter.