New Delhi: Indian warships are conducting an exercise with the US Navy’s nuclear-powered USS Nimitz — the world’s largest warship — off the coast of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Monday and Tuesday, a development that comes amid tensions with China at the LAC in Eastern Ladakh.
The Navy’s exercise is on similar lines of another that it had carried out with the Japanese Navy last month.
The USS Nimitz, named after the US World War II Pacific fleet commander Chester W. Nimitz, is manned by around 6,000 naval personnel and carries nearly 90 aircraft, which include F/A-18F Super Hornets, F/A-18E Super Hornets and MH 60 helicopters.
The US aircraft carrier, along with its carrier battle groups, reached the Indian ocean through the Malacca Straits Saturday and is on its way to the Persian Gulf.
The Malacca Straits, a global choke point, is also a vital sea line of communication for China’s energy and trade resources, essential to keep its economy running.
Another US aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, has also been present in the South China Sea. Reagan reportedly carried out exercises in the South China Sea earlier this month.
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The India-US exercise
The Navy’s Eastern Fleet, which had already been carrying out a five-day long exercise off the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, has now sent some of its ships to collaborate with the USS Nimitz.
Both the forces will be working on Centrix (combined enterprise regional information exchange system), which is the common communication system fitted on all US naval ships to ensure secure and reliable communications and can’t be intercepted by any other forces.
The Indian Navy uses a separate communications system called the Composite Communication System (CCS).
The exercise will entail various coordinated exercises such as surface action, surveillance and anti-submarine drills to check the interoperability between the two navies and sharing of best practices.
Captain D.K. Sharma, a former Navy spokesperson, told ThePrint that the opportunities to operate with international navies are usually rare.
“The exercise is taking place at the right location and at the right time and this will send a strategic message to the adversaries,” Sharma said. “After the Eastern Fleet disengages, the Western Fleet should also conduct an exercise with the aircraft carrier as it crosses the Arabian Sea. Why not?”
India could also invite Australia for Malabar exercise
India is also considering inviting Australia for the Malabar exercise, which is scheduled to be held in August or September. However, a final decision on whether Australia will join India, US and Japan for the exercise is pending.
The Indian Navy also exercises with various foreign navies such as INDRA with Russia, KONKAN with the Royal Navy, VARUNA with French NAVY, AUSIndex with Australian Navy, Simbex with Singapore Navy, Slimex Sri Lankan Navy, in addition to Milan and CORPAT, which are multilateral exercises.
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