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India, US solidify strategic partnership in the Indo-Pacific

Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar, Indian Navy's Vice Chief of Naval Staff, is welcomed aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during a visit to San Diego (Image courtesy: Twitter/@USPacificFleet)

India and the United States have reinforced their strategic partnership and a common desire for the free and open Indo-Pacific during a meeting between the top Naval officers of the two global powers in San Diego.  

Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar, Indian Navy's Vice Chief of Naval Staff, met US Navy's top commanders during his visit to the US, including Vice Admiral Steve Koehler, the commander of US 3rd Fleet, on  June 28.

According to the US Navy, the purpose of the meeting, held at the invitation of Commander, US Pacific Fleet, focused on US and Indian Navy cooperation in the area of undersea domain awareness, and is part of a larger visit which included various stops throughout San Diego and the Pacific Northwest.

"The US-India strategic partnership is one of our most critical relationships in the Indo-Pacific. Open discussion of shared and complementary capabilities not only strengthens our relationship, it increases our naval effectiveness as we work together to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific," Koehler was quoted as saying by the 3rd Fleet which is an integral part of US Pacific Fleet and operates naval forces in the Indo-Pacific.

Indian Navy

Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar with Vice Admiral Steve Koehler, the commander of US 3rd Fleet, during a visit to 3rd Fleet headquarters (Image Courtesy: US Navy/Jessica L Hale)

Kumar also visited Undersea Warfighting Development Center (UWDC) in San Diego which was established to ensure that the US Navy not only maintains its asymmetric advantage in the undersea domain but also maintains smooth integration of multi-domain undersea warfare platforms.

"The US and Indian Navies have been reinforcing their partnership in a shared desire to maintain a rules-based international order and will continue to work together with other partners and allies to demonstrate a collective commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," said the US Pacific Fleet.

Indian Navy US Navy

Aviation Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Rebekkah Rosenberg shows Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar flight deck control aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (Image Courtesy: US Navy/Hayden J. Burns)

The Vice Admiral, during his stay in San Diego, also visited Submarine Squadron 11, Undersea Rescue Command, Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center, and the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is in San Diego till July 16 after returning home on May 25 following a six-month deployment conducting maritime security operations, and ensuring freedom of navigation and economic trade in the Indo-Pacific region.

The aircraft carrier was also part of the US Navy Carrier Strike Group which had participated in the two-day integrated bilateral exercise between Indian and US Forces in the Indian Ocean Region, last month. The exercise had witnessed high tempo-naval operations at sea and has been a key enabler in building interoperability and strengthening the defence coordination between the two nations.

Indian Navy US Navy Partnership

Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar looks through a periscope simulator at Submarine Training Facility in San Diego (Image Courtesy: US Navy/Josue L. Escobosa)

In the Pacific Northwest, Kumar visited with elements of Submarine Development Squadron 5 and Commander, Undersea Surveillance operating the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS) mission which provides global maritime acoustic surveillance and timely, accurate antisubmarine warfare (ASW) reporting using persistent, long-range, fixed and mobile systems.

He also interacted with the Indian Navy's MH-60R helicopter induction crew which is undergoing training at the US Navy's Naval Base Coronado.

Indian Navy US Navy

Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar with the Indian Navy's MH-60R helicopter induction crew at Coronado naval base (Image courtesy: Indian Navy).

With the emergence of Quad, a significant increase in synergy, interoperability and coordination between the navies of India, United States, Japan and Australia has been witnessed in recent times. The quadrilateral cooperation, majorly to meet the challenges posed by China in the region, has seen all the four countries unite in a shared vision for the free and open Indo-Pacific. 

The Malabar series of exercises, which began as an annual bilateral naval exercise between India and the US in 1992, now also sees the participation of Japan and the Australian Navy to highlight the convergence of views among the participating countries on maritime issues and their shared commitment to a rules-based international order.

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