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Sunday, November 29, 2015

INS Sindhudhvaj hunts down USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN705) in Malabar exercise

The meeting, on September 29, of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida in New York was hailed as the first trilateral meeting at the foreign ministerial level between New Delhi, Washington and Tokyo. In his opening remarks, Kerry spoke of East Asia as “a place of challenge for some issues of security”, Swaraj spoke of the “sea lanes of communication in the region” as “the lifeline of India’s trade and commercial externalities”, and Kishida described the Pacific and Indian Oceans as “oceans of freedom and prosperity”.

Back home, the Bay of Bengal- along the eastern seaboard- is important to India in the light of its Look East Policy, which has been tweaked by PM Modi as the Act East Policy. In 2007, China protested against the Japanese participation in Malabar 2007. This was followed by the then UPA government limiting the exercise to just a bilateral one between India and US. The JMSDF participation in the exercise in Bay of Bengal is thus a significant diplomatic decision for India for two reasons. On one hand, it underlines the importance Delhi imparts to ASEAN. On the other, it sends out a strong signal to China that India will independently pursue its foreign policy not withstanding interference from any other power. 

The six-day Malabar 2015 exercise that concluded in the Bay of Bengal on Monday needs to be viewed in the light of these stated positions, which have been articulated by each of the participating nations for long now.  Malabar, initially an India-US bilateral naval exercise, began in 1992, and Japan became a permanent participant only in the current — 19th — edition in 2015. Japan’s participation as a non-permanent participant in 2007 had drawn a strong protest from China; Japan, nonetheless, participated in the 2009, 2011 and 2014 editions of the exercise, which were held off the Japanese coast. The participation of Japan, which deployed missile destroyer J S Fuyuzuki and SH 60K helicopters on India’s invitation, is the first time since 2007 that the Japanese Navy has participated in the exercise being held off the coast of India. It also signals the importance that the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally have attached to strategic ties with Japan.

In the Malabar 2015, the Indian Navy has been represented by INS Shivalik -an indigenous frigate, INS Ranvijay – a guided missile destroyer, INS Betwa- an indigenous frigate and INS Shakti- a Fleet Support Ship. In addition, one Sindhugosh class submarine, INS Sindhudhvaj, Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft P8I and integral rotary wing helicopters also participated in the trilateral exercise. The US Navy was represented by the ships from Carrier Task Force (CTF) 70 of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, which is based at Yokosuka, Japan. The CTF included the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Ticonderoga class Cruiser USS Normandy and Freedom Class Littoral Combat ship USS Forth Worth. In addition, one Los Angeles class nuclear powered submarine USS City of Corpus Christi, F18 Aircraft from US Carrier Air Wing and P8A Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft have been a part of the exercise.The JMSDF was represented by JS Fuyuzuki, a missile destroyer with SH 60K integral helicopter.

~ and besides the participation of Japan, there is more to cheer about as reported in Daily Mail.  If the hostile entry of the U.S. Navy’s 7th fleet in the crucial stage of the 1971 war for the liberation of Bangladesh sent a shiver down the spine of Indian military commanders, events at the Malabar 2015 in October gave the latter some relief.

An operation under the high-profile naval exercise Malabar, between the navies of India, the U.S. and Japan, featured a simulated battle to hunt and destroy each other’s submarines. Locked in this battle were two prowlers, the INS Sindhudhvaj (S56), a Soviet-designed EKM class of conventional submarine, and the USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN705), a nuclear-powered attack submarine that functions like a fighter plane — scrambles and destroys enemy submarines and ships.

Crew of both the vessels was asked to hunt the other down in a general area of the Bay of Bengal, based on the ‘available Intel’.  Hours later, as they still searched, the Americans were informed that the game was over already.  Unknown, they had been marked, tailed and suitably ‘annihilated’ by the 533mm torpedoes ‘fired’ by their Indian counterpart from on board the INS Sindhudhvaj.  What came as a clincher to the Indian side was the tool which detected the USS Corpus Christi — the ‘Made in India’ Ushus SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging) which was recently installed.  “The way it happened is that the Sindhudhvaj recorded the Hydrophonic Effect (HE) — simply put, underwater noise — of the N-powered submarine and managed to positively identify it before locking on to it.

"Being an exercise what did not happen was the firing,” explained a naval officer. The HE, thus captured, can easily slide into the elaborate database that any Navy maintains for classifying and identifying foreign submarines. A U.S. embassy spokesperson said, “We have no information on the results to share.”

India has nine such submarines besides four German-designed Shishumar class ones.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th Nov. 2015.

News source : The Indian Express & Daily Mail.

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