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Indo-US naval exercises begin
George Iype in Kochi | October 06, 2003 15:08 IST
Last Updated: October 06, 2003 19:24 IST
Two American warships and a nuclear submarine are engaged in a three-day Indo-US naval exercise that began in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Kochi, on Monday.
Around 1,500 American and Indian personnel are participating in this largest-ever Indo-US naval exercise, codenamed Malabar Series.
A product tanker and maritime patrol aircraft support the US warships, USS Fitzgerald and USS Chosin.
India has deployed two guided missile frigates, INS Brahmaputra and INS Ganga, submarine INS Shalki and tanker ship INS Shakti.
USS Chosin, commanded by Captain Edward M Boorda, has a crew of approximately 400 with 40 officers. It is one of the most sophisticated guided missile cruisers in the world and showcases the cutting edge of radar and missile technology.
"This joint exercise is a great opportunity for increasing military cooperation between India and the US," Capt Boorda said.
He said that in the past two years, especially after the September 11 terrorist attacks, "the Indo-US military cooperation has tremendously increased".
USS Fitzgerald, commanded by Commodore John P Neagley, has a crew of 340. It is fitted with the most sophisticated weaponry and has extensive communication capabilities, which include banking, ATM and postal facilities.
Cmdr Neagley said, "It is a great professional and personal opportunity to be on the shores of the southern naval command. These are going to be exciting days for us."
Officials at the southern naval headquarters said the thrust of the exercise would be the antisubmarine warfare tactics that the US would showcase. Thus, the centrepiece of the exercise is USS Pasadena, a 300-feet Los Angeles-class attack submarine with the Seventh Fleet.
Another focus area of the exercise is VBSS (visit, board, search and seizure operations), officials said.
"The joint exercise is especially meant to improve the interoperability of each navy. It also helps us in understanding each other's operating philosophy especially in the backdrop of the global fight against terrorism," an Indian official said.
The Malabar Series began in 1992, but was discontinued after the US imposed military and economic sanctions on India in the wake of the Pokhran nuclear tests in May 1998. The series was revived last year.
The earlier exercises were in 1992, 1995, 1996 and 2002.
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