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US Navy joins Indian Navy for PASSEX naval drill in Indian Ocean

US Navy's USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG) during an exercise with the Indian Navy. (US Navy/Released)
July 30, 2020

On Monday, July 20, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet strike group consisting of Nimitz-class supercarrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59), and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett (DDG 104) and USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), entered the Indian Ocean via Malacca Strait and participated in joint naval exercise PASSEX with the Indian Navy.

Indian Navy’s four frontline surface combat vessels from its Eastern Fleet consisting of Shivalik-class frigates INS Shivalik (F47), INS Sahyadri (F49), Komorta-class ASW Corvette INS Kamorta (P28) and Rajput-class destroyer INS Rana(D52), teamed up with the U.S. warships in the Indian Ocean near Andaman and Nicobar Islands for the PASSEX.

The U.S. Navy spokesperson said that the 7th Fleet’s Carrier Strike Group is currently deployed in the Indian Ocean. Notably, both the Indian Navy and the U.S. Navy conducted tactical exercises designed to maximize operational credibility in IOR and interoperability, including air defense, surface combat, joint naval expeditionary training, ocean reconnaissance, and regional patrolling.

Before this exercise, the Indian Navy had already conducted similar PASSEXs with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force and the French Navy in the past.

U.S. Navy’s Carrier Strike Group was transiting through the Indian Ocean after coming from the South China Sea where three U.S. Navy carrier strike groups were deployed under looming threats of Chinese aggression against Taiwan.

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The Indian Navy and U.S. Navy both greeted each other through their spokespersons and expressed their willingness to operate with one another in future Indo-Pacific region activities to ensure freedom of navigation for the regional nations.

With this exercise, the Indian Navy and U.S. Navy gave clear signals that their intention is to defend their sovereignty and other small countries’ rights to navigate freely in their regional waters.

The U.S. Navy will continue to keep their two carrier groups in the South China Sea, and the Indian Navy is keeping a close eye on all critical passage in the Indian Ocean region.

The Indian Navy has increased its reconnaissance surveillance missions with maritime patrol aircraft P-8i Poseidons, anti-submarine warfare ships Kamorta-class corvettes and frontline Shivalik-class frigates patrolling near Malacca Strait. The Indian Navy has increased their operational deployment in the Indian Ocean region at its peak readiness condition in the wake of the country’s tense border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh around Line of Actual Control (LAC).