Observation of the Joint Maritime Exercise by Japan, the US and India
I visited Tamil Nadu from October 17th to 18th to observe the joint naval exercise by India, the US and Japan, which was carried out in the Indian Ocean.
It was the “Malabar” maritime joint exercise held by India and the US, in which JMSDF (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force) participated. Japan was invited to the joint exercise for the first time in 2007, which was conducted in the Bay of Bengal. Japan participated in the following exercises in 2009 and 2014 in the sea near Okinawa and it was the fourth time for Japan to participate in the joint exercise.
This time, the exercise was conducted over six days from October 14th to 19th, and such trainings as tactical maneuver, gun firing, and search and rescue were carried out. JMSDF dispatched the latest Destroyer “Fuyuzuki”, which was commissioned in March last year. Five vessels from India and four vessels from the US, as well as patrol airplanes of India and the US participated in this joint exercise.
I observed the joint exercise carried out on October 18th, in which“Theodore Roosevelt”, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of the US was taking the central role. The Consul-General of Japan in Chennai, the Ambassador of USA and the Consul-General of USA in Chennai as well as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Indian Navy also joined in observing this joint exercise. We first got on a carrier-based plane. After landing on the “Theodore Roosevelt”, we observed the practice and operation procedure of “touch and go” by the carrier-based planes on the deck. While this was a part of the entire exercise, I witnessed the real tension of the exercise and professionalism of the naval staff carrying out their missions on the front line. I also recognized again the high skills of JMSDF, the Indian and the US Navies and realized the progress of cooperative relationship between Japan, India and the US through the maritime joint exercise, by watching the vessels of both JMSDF and Indian Navy, which were cruising in perfect formation, following closely the US aircraft carrier.
A joint press conference by the representatives of Japan, India and the US was held on the deck of an Indian Navy vessel on October 15th. The conference was attended by a representative from each country: Vice Admiral Murakawa, Vice Chief of Staff, JMSDF, Vice Admiral Bilal Verma, AVSM, Chief of Staff, ENC, and Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin, Commander, the U.S. Seventh Fleet. Each representative emphasized the importance of this joint exercise for the deepening of the maritime partnership among Japan, India and the US in the Indian Ocean.
The Indian Ocean is a very important sea lane for Japan, and it is a vital challenge for Japan, India and the US to maintain the Indian Ocean as a free and open sea. I hope that cooperation among Japan, India and the US would continue to be promoted through maritime joint exercises.
Ambassador of Japan to India