India-US Naval Exercises

India-US Naval Exercises

Amidst recent clashes with China, India boosted its ties with allies through military collaborations and naval exercises, adding to its recent success of similar joint ventures.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Drills
Navies of India and the US recently conducted a joint navy exercise near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Indian ships carried the drill with the US Navy “carrier strike group” led by USS Nimitz, which passed through Malacca strait located to the southeast of A&N – the strait is of strategic importance to India and China. The naval exercise took place amidst the sailing of the US ships from the South China Sea to the Middle East.

Passex is short for Passing Exercise in Navy terms. It is done to check the “communication and coordination” between navies, required in case of a mission or war. A drill which was conducted on short notice, the India-US drill was an example of Passex.

Cautioning China
Several drills have occurred in the South China Sea amidst its recent implementation of the ‘Security Law’ in Hong Kong and its conflict with Taiwan.

The US Navy recently conducted drills in the South China Sea, with the aircraft carriers USS Reagan and USS Nimitz leading the drill. China criticized the move and increased its deployment of warships and aircraft in the region, with the move gaining disapproval from Vietnam and the Philippines.

The US also sailed its warship in the strait between Taiwan and China at the time when Chinese aircraft reportedly entered the Taiwanese border.

India’s Naval Exercises
India held several navy drills in the recent past and it conducts joint annual exercise with several nations.

  • June 2020: Indian Navy conducted a joint exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in the Malacca Strait in the Indian Ocean.
  • December 2019: India and Russia held a “tri-service exercise” of the Army, Airforce, and Navy, named ‘Indra 2019’.
  • November 2019: India held the “Za’ir-Al-Bahr” (Roar of the Sea) maritime exercise with Qatar in Doha.
  • September 2019: India and Thailand conducted the 28th “coordinated patrol” (CORPAT) exercise.
  • May 2019: The 8th CORPAT drill took place between India and Myanmar.
  • Malabar is the annual naval exercise with the US and Japan, with Australia and Singapore being past non-permanent participants. The addition of Australia to the drill is expected in 2020.
  • Varuna is an annual naval drill with France.
  • Milan includes annual naval exercises with multiple nations. 30 participant countries including Australia and Singapore were confirmed for the 2020 drill, which got postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • SIMBEX is an annual naval drill with Singapore.
  • SLINEX is a naval exercise with Sri Lanka. While the exercise occurred once in 2 years, it has been made an annual event since 2018.
  • The Indian colonial navy was titled as His Majesty’s Indian Navy. When India became a republic in 1950, the Royal Indian Navy as it had been named since 1934 was renamed to the Indian Navy.
  • शं नो वरुणः is the motto Indian Navy. The Sanskrit phrase means “May the Lord of Water be auspicious unto us”.
  • Navy Day in India is celebrated on 4th December every year to recognize the achievements and role of the Indian Navy to the country. 4 December was chosen as on that day in 1971, during Operation Trident, the Indian Navy sank four Pakistani vessels including PNS Khaibar.