Next phase of Quad’s naval drills to kick off in Bay of Bengal today
India, the United States, Japan and Australia will kick off the second phase of this year’s Malabar naval drills in the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday, with the exercise seeking to build on the synergy, coordination and interoperability developed during the first phase held in August, the Indian Navy said in a statement. The second phase, to be held from October 12-15, will focus on advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises, seamanship evolution and weapon firings, it said.
The navies of the Quad nations conducted the first phase of the drills near the Pacific Ocean island of Guam from August 26 to 29. It involved destroyers, frigates, corvettes, submarines, helicopters, long-range maritime patrol aircraft and elite special forces elements, including US Navy SEALs and Indian Navy’s marine commandos, also know as MARCOS.
The Indian Navy will participate in the second phase with INS Ranvijay, INS Satpura, P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft and a submarine, the statement said. The US Navy will be represented by aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, and two destroyers, USS Lake Champlain and USS Stockdale. Japan will be represented by JS Kaga and JS Murasame, while the Royal Australian Navy will be represented by HMAS Ballarat and HMAS Sirius.
India is also preparing to conduct its first tri-service exercise with the United Kingdom in the Arabian Sea in October, as previously reported by Hindustan Times. The Royal Navy will send a carrier strike group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, for the drills that will be conducted from October 21 to 27. So far, India has conducted tri-service drills with two other countries – the US and Russia.
Earlier, the Quad navies carried out drills in November 2020 in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
China has been monitoring the activities of the Quad countries. Beijing has been wary of the Quadrilateral security dialogue that was revived in late 2017 by India, the US, Australia and Japan. These suspicions have increased since the four countries upgraded the forum to the ministerial level in 2019.
From carrying out naval drills with like-minded countries to reaching out to states in the Indian Ocean region, the Indian Navy is focusing on checking China’s rising ambitions in the region and sending out a strong message that Beijing’s power play in the South China Sea cannot be replicated in the Indian Ocean.
Last November, navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh said a “great power competition” was playing out in the Indian Ocean region, where the Indian Navy has stepped up surveillance to check China’s ambitions.