India and the US are conducting a joint naval exercise, 'Malabar-'06, off the coast of Goa from October 24 to November 5. An indicator of growing military ties, this is the ninth bilateral exercise with the US since 2002.
Indian warships taking part include Delhi-class destroyer Mysore, guided missile frigate Beas, landing ship Gharial and sub-surface killer submarine INS Shankul.
The simulated combat at sea also involves reconnaissance aircraft and Sea Harrier fighters. The first of the Malabar series of exercises was conducted in 1993, but it was dumped after Pokhran-II in 1998.
Pitched against the Indian maritime might is the US Navy’s Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG-05) comprising landing platform USS Boxer, cruiser USS Bunker Hill, destroyers Benfold and Howard, the US Coast Guard Cutter Midgett, Canadian frigate Ottawa, nuclear powered submarine USS Providence and a P3C Orion long-range anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft.
Navy spokesman Captain Vinay Garg said on Thursday, "The two navies are carrying out expeditionary operations for the first time. Some of our troops have been trained for sea-borne landings onboard Gharial.
"They will now exercise with the US marines onboard Boxer. The exercise provides us the right setting to prepare for the induction of Trenton, which is a landing platform dock."
Ahead of its induction in December 2006, navy personnel have left for the US to train on Trenton, which is undergoing a refit at Norfolk, Virginia. The American warship, being bought for Rs 225 crore, will be the second largest in the navy after aircraft carrier Viraat.
Malabar-06 has seen the two navies engage in anti-submarine operations, maritime interdictions, weapon firings, onboard search and seizure operations and cross deck flying.
Garg said, "Such interactions help in auditing our own standards by first-hand comparison with navies of advanced countries."
The Indian Navy conducts the Varuna series of exercises with the French, Konkan with the British, Indra with the Russians and Simbex with Singapore.