American, Indian Navies demonstrate sea partnership during Malabar '05
[USS Nimitz Public Affairs, 29 September 2005]
American and Indian naval forces have teamed together for a bilateral naval exercise that began on 27 September 2005, off the southwest coast of India. The annual exercise, known as Malabar, includes at-sea maneuvers designed to increase interoperability between the two navies and enhance the cooperative security relationship between India and the United States. More than 6,500 U.S. Navy personnel, primarily from Carrier Strike Group 11, are engaged in air, surface and sub-surface operations and professional military exchanges with their Indian counterparts. Malabar is considered to be a key element of the U.S. Pacific Fleet's anti-submarine warfare training cycle. Rear Admiral Peter Daly - Commander of Carrier Strike Group 11 - said, "It's the largest exercise we've ever done with the Indian Navy, the first-ever exercise with a U.S. carrier and the Indian aircraft carrier Viraat (R 22), and it's an important step in our strengthening relations with India." Carrier Strike Group 11 is working alongside Indian warships as they exercise their skills in maritime interdiction, force protection drills, surface formation steaming, coordinated gunfire support and prosecution of submarine contacts. Nimitz is providing air support with aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 11 and is hosting several Indian officers as part of an exchange program.
"Apart from professional interaction, we are also looking toward making friends as has been the motto of our navy - Building Bridges of Friendship," said Lieutenant Commander Juzer Nadeem, a fighter direction officer with the Indian Navy. "These series of exercises should continue and the level of interaction increase over the years." Another Indian Navy officer, Lieutenant Commander Sudipto Maitra, agreed. "The series of exercises over the years has built up to a very complex scale of operations to the state where two carriers are operating in the same waters, same air space, and so many aircraft flying around very safely. It's been good," he said and added, "We only look forward to greater interaction, greater interoperability, and of course, building bridges of friendship." The Indian officers were paired up with their American colleagues aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. One Air Wing 11 officer said the bilateral relationship was mutually beneficial.
"We've been learning about how they do business as well," said Lieutenant Commander Christian Kidder, administration officer with Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 117. "Their carrier does business in much the same way that ours does. They have the same chain of command, same structure within their aircraft carrier on the Viraat." The guided-missile destroyers USS Higgins (DDG 76) and USS Chafee (DDG 90) are the two primary anti-submarine surface ships assigned to the strike group. Led by Captain Michael Smith, commander, Destroyer Squadron 23, the two destroyers are key units in the exercise for the U.S. Navy. Other U.S. units providing key support are land-based P-3C Orion maritime patrol & reconnaissance aircraft and the Los Angeles Class attack submarine USS Santa Fe (SSN 763). Malabar was last held a year ago at the same location. This is the seventh iteration of the annual exercise. Malabar '05 is scheduled to conclude on 05 October 2005.
Goa COMREL marks end of Malabar '05
[Navy News Service, 05 October 2005]
Exercise Malabar ended on 03 October 2005, with a community relations (COMREL) project in Panjim, Goa, India. Malabar is an annual exercise intended to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and Indian navies for future combined operations. The guided-missile destroyers USS Higgins (DDG 76) and USS Chaffee (DDG 90) along with the nuclear-powered, attack submarine USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) pulled into port in Goa on 02 October 2005, completing the 'at-sea' phase of the exercise, and participated in an international sports day called the Malabar Cup. After good-spirited games of volleyball, soccer and basketball, a reception was held aboard USS Higgins to celebrate the exercise's successful completion. USS Chaffee was unable to participate in the day's community relations project due to operational commitments, but some of the crew of USS Higgins and USS Santa Fe were bused to downtown Panjim to a children's art & culture center to repaint the theatre. One of the volunteers was USS Santa Fe's Storekeeper 3rd Class Victor Mesa. "We were told on the sub that we could help out some local kids with some painting, and I wanted to be a part of it," he said.
All the volunteers were taken aback at the warm reception they received at the center. "We walked in and two women and two little girls greeted us with burning candles and marked our foreheads with red power to welcome us," said Operations Specialist Seaman Andrea Annis from Higgins and added, "They said it was a traditional welcome." The work was hard in the small non-air conditioned theatre. Indian paint, thicker than paint in the U.S., had to be mixed with water for more than an hour before the painting could begin. According to the sailors, the work was well worth the effort. "The kids in the center put on a show for us. They brought us into a room after lunch, and kids came out singing and dancing." said Mesa. The children, dressed in traditional Indian clothes, performed songs and dances both Indian and Goan. Having been ruled as a Portuguese colony for more than 450 years, Goa has a culture distinctly different from most of India. "This is the first time I have ever done a COMREL," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Deltria Hines and added, "After seeing these kids and how adorable the dancing was, I'm hooked. I'll make sure I'm on every one from now on."
Images Courtesy - United States Navy