USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) prepares to join a formation of ships and submarines from the U.S. Navy, Indian Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force during exercise Malabar 2015. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Chris Brown)

BAY OF BENGAL - The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) participated in its first exercise Malabar in the Bay of Bengal, Oct. 14-19.

Exercise Malabar 2015 was an Indian Navy-Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF)-U.S. Navy trilateral training exercise conducted to improve our collective maritime relationship.

"The harbor phase of Malabar 2015 proved quite beneficial to the crew," said Cmdr. Christopher Brown, Fort Worth's commanding officer. "This was the first-ever participation of a littoral combat ship in exercise Malabar and the sea phase provided a unique opportunity for Fort Worth to operate hull-to-hull with ships from both the Indian Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. What we learned from each other will go a long way toward advancing our navies' interoperability in this critical area of operations."

Exercises like Malabar 2015 allow for multi-lateral training, while exchanging both skills and cultures that enhance the dynamic cooperation between the Indian Navy, JMSDF and U.S. Navy forces of the future. U.S. 7th Fleet maintains a consistent presence in virtually all waters of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

"These three navies practice high-end maritime skills in a multitude of disciplines, such as gunnery exercises, VBSS (visit, board, search and seizure), strike warfare, maneuvering, air defense, communication, search and rescue, and complex war-at-sea training," Brown added.

Participation in exercises such as these are examples of U.S. Navy efforts to maintain a presence in the region to help preserve safety and security, and further our maritime partnerships with our allies.

"The VBSS boarding exercise was a combined compliant boarding of INS Shakti (A 57) with the INS Ranvijay (D 55) VBSS Team, Indian Marine Commandos, and LCS SUW DET 4 (Surface Warfare, Detachment 4)," said Chief Fire Controlman Eduardo Pareno. "The objective of the exercise was to safely board Shakti, secure the bridge, secure the engineering spaces, conduct security sweeps, inspect cargo, and verify ship's manifest. Although this was the first time all three teams performed together, overall, the team cohesion was effective and the execution of the mission was a great success."

Malabar 2015 builds on progress made during previous exercises, improving participating nations' ability to conduct joint operations, and improves coordination and capacity. It is planned to improve and advance the engagement by increasing the exercise's complexity and detail.

Malabar is an annual maritime exercise with the Indian Navy that included the JMSDF in 2015. The JMSDF last participated in Malabar 2014 and Malabar 2009.

Commander, Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 staff conduct advanced planning, organize resources and directly support the execution of maritime exercises such as the bilateral Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) series, the Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) with Vietnam, and the multilateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) with Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Sailors assigned to Surface Warfare Mission Package, Detachment 4, currently embarked aboard USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), train with the Indian Navy in an 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boat during a visit, board, search and seizure drill as part of exercise Malabar. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Joe Bishop)