Indian Navy warships together with the United States Navy coordinated a joint maritime exercise in the Indian Ocean on Monday, Voice of America (VOA) reported on Tuesday.
The military drill took place away from the Indian mainland, near India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The islands are located close to one of the busiest shipping routes in the world near the Malacca Strait.
The Indian Navy described the drill as a “passage exercise,” which VOA says is “a reference to maneuvers held by two countries when a transiting warship joins another.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed the joint drill on Tuesday, revealing that the U.S. Navy deployed the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier to join the Indian Navy for the exercise. The coordinated effort in the Malacca Strait, the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, demonstrated the U.S. and India’s “shared commitment to stronger naval cooperation and support of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Esper said.
The commander of the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, Rear Admiral Jim Kirk, praised Monday’s joint drill with India in a statement, saying that the “series of exercises improved our interoperability and is a testimony to the flexibility of both our Navies.”
The first-ever joint military exercises between India and the U.S. took place last November. The two countries “plan to hold a two-plus-two ministerial dialogue later this year to build on their cooperative progress,” VOA reports. In his statement on Monday, Esper hailed the United States’ “increased defense cooperation with India” as “one of the all-important defense relationships of the 21st century.”
The U.S. and India look to bolster their strategic partnerships with one another as they both turn away from China amid increasing diplomatic tensions with Beijing.