Maritime forces from India, Japan and the US have started the annual multilateral Malabar 2014 naval exercise, which aims to enhance cooperation among participating nations.
Featuring both onshore and at-sea training, the complex, high-end operational exercise, held off Japan, is the latest in a series of exercises carried out to improve multinational maritime relationships and mutual security concerns.
The US Navy 7th Fleet commander vice-admiral Robert Thomas said: "The United States, India and Japan hold common values and seafaring traditions, making our navies natural partners.
"We believe that building maritime partnerships through exercises like Malabar foster security and stability in the entire Indo-Asia Pacific region."
The onshore training session involves discussions on subject matter expert and professional exchanges on carrier strike group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, and anti piracy and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations.
The sea phase of the exercise, to be conducted in the Western Pacific Ocean, is scheduled from 27 to 30 July and involves search and rescue exercises, helicopter cross-deck landings, underway replenishments, gunnery and anti-submarine warfare exercises, VBSS and liaison officer exchange and embarkation.
Indian Navy Eastern Fleet Flag Officer Commanding rear admiral AK Jain said: "This [Malabar 2014] will certainly advance professional interaction and understanding between our sailors and help us to achieve better synergy to tackle common maritime challenges.
"This will also help us to take naval cooperation between the US, Japan and India to a new level."
The sea phase involves three Indian Navy vessels, the INS Ranvijay, INS Shivalik and INS Shakti, two Japanese Navy destroyers together with a P3C Orion and a sea-plane (US-2), in addition to a US Navy submarine, two destroyers, a tanker and one MR aircraft.
Japan Navy Destroyer Squadron 15 commodore captain Shan Byrne said: "Throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans the US 7th Fleet and its allies, Japan and partner India, maintain a consistent presence. It’s absolutely critical that we train together and build our maritime partnership and understanding.
"Exercises like Malabar continue to help maintain and strengthen stability and security in the Asian Pacific and Indian Ocean region."
Image: Navy officials from the participating nations during the Malabar 2014 exercise. Photo: courtesy of the Indian Navy.