In an effort to further consolidate bilateral naval relations between India and the US and also to explore new avenues for naval cooperation, Admiral John Michael Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, US Navy, has arrived on a three-day visit to India. This is US admiral s second visit to India as the chief of the US Naval Operations from May 12-14.
The ties between the two countries have grown significantly, especially after India was accorded major defence partner status by the US government in 2016, followed by the first 2+2 Dialogue Ministerial (Defence and Foreign Ministry level) in September 2018 which opened new avenues for defence cooperation between the two sides.
Issues relating to operations and exercises, training interactions, information exchange, capacity building and capability enhancement were discussed during meetings with Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chairman COSC and Chief of the Indian Navy, and the defence Secretary, Vice Chief of the Army Staff, Chief of the Air Staff, Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman COSC and the National Security Council Secretariat.
This comes close on the heels of an Indian naval ships recently joining the Group Sail with the navies of the US, the Philippines and Japan through the South China Sea. A series of exercises have been conducted by the US as part of “freedom of navigation” in the disputed South China Sea, which has triggered protests from Beijing over what it says is infringement of sovereignty.
The Indian Ocean and the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea makes up for the huge Indo-Pacific region. While China claims almost the entire South China Sea, countries including Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan are also claimants to the South China Sea.
According to a US Navy statement, the visit by Admiral Richardson is aimed to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two navies by emphasising the importance of information sharing and exchange.
The navies of both countries besides interacting regularly both at bilateral as well as multilateral foras participate in maritime exercises such as MALABAR and RIMPAC. There are regular subject matter expert exchanges in an effort to institutionalise interoperability in various fields.