Malabar Exercise: Quad nations to kick-start naval exercise in Bay of Bengal


Malabar Naval Exercise 2020: Indian Navy will begin its flagship Malabar 2020 Naval Exercise off the Visakhapatnam coast in the Bay of Bengal from November 3. Navies from four friendly countries, India, Australia, the US and Japan will commence the first phase of four-day war games on Tuesday, which is seen as a strong signal of the Quad nations to defend the freedom of navigation and peace in Indo-Pacific region.

The first phase of naval exercise will witness the participation US Navy Ship USS John S McCain (Guided-missile destroyer), Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Ballarat (long-range frigate) with integral MH-60 helicopter, and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Ship JS Onami (a destroyer) with integral SH-60 helicopter.

While the first phase will be held in the Bay of Bengal from November 3 to November 6, the second phase of the mega naval exercise is scheduled to be held from November 17 to 20 in the Arabian Sea.

“The Indian Navy participation in Phase 1 will be led by Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet,” the ministry of defence said in a statement.

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“The exercise, being conducted as a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ exercise in view of COVID-19 pandemic, will showcase the high-levels of synergy and coordination between the friendly navies, which is based on their shared values and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order,” said the ministry of defence.  

Australian Navy is participating in the Malabar 2020 Naval Exercise after a gap of nearly 13 years. Reacting to India’s decision to invite Australia, a Chinese official had told media that the country had taken note of Australia’s participation in Malabar Exercise.

US Navy USS John S McCain HMS Ballarat

US Navy ship USS John S McCain with HMS Ballarat in Andaman Sea.

Australian and US Navy ships are already in Andaman Sea, en-route to the exercise location. USS John S McCain, a guided missile destroyer with its home base in Yokosuka, Japan this week joined Royal Australian Navy Ship HMS Ballarat in Andaman Sea on October 30, en route to the Bay of Bengal.

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Indian Navy invites Australia to join Malabar Exercise

The invitation by India to the Australian Navy for the exercise came two weeks after foreign ministers of the ‘Quad’ member nations (India, Australia, the USA and Japan) held extensive talks in Tokyo with a focus on enhancing their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

The first phase of the drill would witness complex and advanced naval exercises, including surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations, besides cross-deck flying, seamanship evolutions and weapon firing exercises.

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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.

The annual exercise was conducted off the coast of Guam in the Philippine Sea in 2018 and off the coast of Japan in 2019.

Malabar Naval Exercise 2020

Malabar Exercise (File).

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The Indian Navy will deploy a number of ships, a submarine and aircrafts and helicopters in the exercise. These will include destroyer Ranvijay, frigate Shivalik, off-shore patrol vessel Sukanya, fleet support ship Shakti and submarine Sindhuraj.

In addition, advanced jet trainer Hawk, long-range maritime patrol aircraft P-8I, Dornier maritime patrol aircraft, and a number of helicopters will also be participating in the exercise, the officials said.

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