New Delhi: In what could be a strong message to China in the wake of its show of aggression, world’s largest warship US Navy’s USS Nimitz is likely to conduct a drill with Indian Navy off the coast of Andaman and Nicobar island. The warship is already present in the Indian Ocean having come through the Malacca Strait.
The strait, a narrow stretch between Malaysia and Indonesia, is a crucial global choke point from which considerable global oil flows to the rest of Asia including China.
The likely India-US drill could happen on the lines of exercise India had with the Japanese Naval forces at the end of June month. The India-Japan Naval exercise was termed “Passex” or passing exercise.
The development comes amid India-China border standoff. Last month the two countries were involved in a violent face-off after “Chinese side took a premeditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties,” according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Nimitz is coming from South China Sea, and was part of war games along with USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Both conducted dual-carrier operations in the Philippine Sea which according to US Navy was to “demonstrate our commitment to regional allies, our ability to rapidly mass combat power in the Indo-Pacific, and our readiness to confront all those who challenge international norms that support regional stability.”
The development is also significant given the increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean. China has its only overseas military base in Djibouti in the horn of Africa, located strategically at the mouth of crucial sea lanes connecting the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Aden and wider Indian Ocean.
Meanwhile, it looks a significant possibility that Australia may join India, US and Japan for Malabar exercise expected to happen later this year. All four countries already have a working arrangement called Quad whose foreign ministers met last year.