Second phase of Malabar exercise begins in Bay of Bengal

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NEW DELHI, Oct 12 (PTI): The second phase of the high-voltage Malabar exercise featuring the navies of all four Quad countries — India, the US, Australia and Japan – began in the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday.
The US has deployed its nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson for the four-day mega wargame.
The first phase of the exercise took place off the coast of Guam in the Western Pacific from August 26-29.
Indian Navy officials said the second phase of the Malabar exercise is featuring a number of complex drills involving several frontline warships and other assets of the four navies.
The Indian Navy deployed its frontline warships INS Ranvijay and INS Satpura, a submarine and a fleet of P8I long range maritime patrol aircraft for the exercise.
The beginning of the second phase of the Malabar exercise coincided with visit to India of Chief of US naval operations Admiral Michael Gilday.
Admiral Gilday on Tuesday held extensive talks with Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh on further boosting overall bilateral maritime security cooperation. Besides the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, the US has deployed Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain and Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Stockdale.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force deployed helicopter carrier JS Kaga and Murasame-class destroyers JS Murasame while the Royal Australian Navy is being represented by HMAS Ballarat and HMAS Sirius, the officials said.
Following India’s invitation, Australia participated in the Malabar exercise last year that effectively made it a drill by all four member nations of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition. Australia participated in the first phase of Malabar exercise this year too.
The exercise witnessed renewed momentum in the backdrop of the growing convergence of interests in the maritime domain among the four Quad countries.
China has been suspicious about the purpose of the Malabar exercise as it feels that the annual war game is an effort to contain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Malabar exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the Indian Navy and the US Navy in the Indian Ocean. Japan became a permanent member of the exercise in 2015.
This annual exercise was conducted off the coast of Guam in 2018 and off the coast of Japan in 2019.
Last year, the exercise was hosted in two phases in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
There have been mounting global concerns over China’s growing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
India, the US, Australia, Japan and many other like-minded countries are working towards ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

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