The annual Indo-US joint naval drill called ‘Exercise Malabar-2012’ has commenced in the Bay of Bengal at Chennai coast this week. Exercise Malabar 2012 will be a 10-day long exercise wherein both countries will carry out drills with the help of their frontline units. The main thrust of the exercise will be to showcase air defence and anti-submarine warfare capabilities besides other operations. The harbour phase of the exercise has already started out in Chennai.
The US Navy is participating in Exercise Malabar 2012 with its aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), the guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97), a submarine, a P-3C aircraft and a logistics ship. As for the Indian navy, it will field its indigenously built guided missile frigate INS Satpura, guided missile destroyers INS Ranvijay and INS Ranvir and fleet tanker INS Shakti.
Exercise Malabar-2012 is the 16th in a series of bilateral exercises since 1992 and its aim is to propagate multinational maritime relationships and mutual security concerns. Exercise Malabar will heighten coordination between the two navies to carry out tactical operations from a global perspective.
Exercise Malabar 2012 will feature both on-shore and at-sea training in its current event. The former, which will be held in Chennai coast, will include expert and professional exchanges to combat piracy, carrier aviation operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations and anti-submarine warfare operations.
As for the at-sea portions, these will be conducted in two phases with the first in the vicinity of Chennai and the second in the Bay of Bengal. These will include communications exercises, helicopter cross-deck evolutions, gunnery exercises; visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), maritime strikes, air defence exercises, encounter exercises, shore-based surface strikes and anti-submarine warfare amongst other things.
According to a statement released by the US, the Indian Navy and US 7th Fleet have a common understanding and knowledge of a shared working environment at sea. Exercise Malabar 2012 will advance the level of understanding between. As for India, the exercise is a sign of growing naval cooperation and reflects the long-term defence relationship between Indian and US.