Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) and the U.S. Navy are taking part in a 10-day-long Mine Warfare Exercise (MWE) off the coast of northern Japan.
The exercise began on July 18.
“This is the second edition of the MWE. Last year we participated as an observer and this time we are a full participant. We have four personnel participating carrying diving equipment,” a Navy source said on Monday. In the first edition, there were two officers and two sailors as observers in the exercise held at the same location, the source stated.
A naval asset is most vulnerable while sailing out of harbour as mines can put them out of action. “A green channel is created by the local flotilla of the harbour before high value assets move out. It is a very specialised exercise where you are detecting and detonating explosives underwater,” another source explained.
The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams come in the end to neutralise the detected mines. The four Indian Navy EOD personnel are clearance divers, the second source added.
“During the exercise, participating units will practice unit-level mine warfare tactics to include sweeping, hunting, and mine detection,” a statement issued by the Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet Public Affairs, read.
The JMSDF is deploying a large number of its naval assets, while the U.S. is deploying some of its assets located Japan for the exercise.
“Countering the mine threat is an essential mission that enables us to support a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” said Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7, Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, in the statement.
India, Japan and the U.S. have steadily expanded trilateral military engagement at various levels, especially in the maritime domain. Other than the flagship Malabar naval war games, there has been a huge spike in smaller engagements on the high seas to increase interoperability.