Indian Navy holds passage exercise with 'USS Nimitz' carrier group

It comes amidst high alert by Navy in the Indian Ocean Region due to ongoing border stand-off with China

July 20, 2020 07:58 pm | Updated 11:48 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Passage exercise: Indian naval ships rendezvous with the USS Nimitz carrier strike group near the Andaman and Nicobar islands on Monday.

Passage exercise: Indian naval ships rendezvous with the USS Nimitz carrier strike group near the Andaman and Nicobar islands on Monday.

Indian naval ships on Monday conducted a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the United States Navy’s USS Nimitz carrier strike group near the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) islands as it is transiting the Indian Ocean. The exercise comes amidst high alert by the Navy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) due to the ongoing stand-off with China along the border in Ladakh.

“The rendezvous by the ships was done on Monday morning. The passage exercise will go till on Tuesday afternoon,” a Navy source told The Hindu . As part of this, four Indian naval ships, including a stealth corvette, teamed up with USS Nimitz and three other U.S. ships in the Eastern Indian Ocean near the A&N islands.

With regular large-scale exercises deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the India Navy has recently undertaken several PASSEXs, which officials described as an opportunity to improve interoperability on the high seas.

USS Nimitz , the U.S. Navy’s largest aircraft carrier, is returning from the South China Sea through the Malacca Straits, where it recently conducted integrated operations along with the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group to support, what the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said, “a free and open Indo- Pacific, and promote an international rules-based order wherein each country can reach its potential without sacrificing national sovereignty.”

“The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is transiting through IOR. During the passage, Indian Navy units undertook PASSEX with the U.S. Navy. The Indian Navy had conducted similar PASSEXs with the Japanese Navy and the French Navy in the recent past,” the Indian Navy said. Last week, ships under the Eastern Naval Command conducted exercises in the Bay of Bengal off the A&N islands.

On June 27, JS Kashima and JS Shimayuki from the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) training squadron conducted a PASSEX with INS Rana and INS Kulish in the Indian Ocean. In a message on Twitter, JMSDF had said that it had “promoted mutual understanding with the Indian Navy through this exercise.”

The Navy is keeping a close watch on the movement in the IOR of Chinese naval ships, whose presence has gone up considerably over the years in the name of anti-piracy patrols. In 2017, China opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.

Given their strategic location, India is also undertaking a major infrastructure expansion plans on the A&N island chain. As reported by The Hindu , India is also close to taking a decision on inviting Australia for the Malabar trilateral naval exercise with Japan and the U.S.

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