Lt. j.g. Michael Cornish stands watch in the Combat Information Center (CIC) aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) during an air-defense exercise as a part of Malabar 2015. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Justin R. DiNiro)

BAY OF BENGAL - Naval forces from India, Japan and the United States kicked off exercise Malabar 2015, Oct. 16, with an air defense exercise (ADEX).

The ADEX featured collaboration with the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Carrier Airwing (CVW) 1, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the Indian frigate INS Shivalik (F 47).

Exercise Malabar is an annual event designed to enhance naval cooperation through engagement with India and Japan while demonstrating U.S. naval presence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

“We launched aircraft from TR to simulate scenarios to exercise the Indian’s self-defense,” said Lt. Sean McDonnell, Normandy’s air defense officer. “The ADEX supports the overall Malabar exercise by sharing how we control aircraft and learning how the Indian Navy controls their aircraft. We’re up on the same voice circuit so it’s a nice opportunity to collaborate and compare and contrast our procedures. We’ve sent liaison officers to the Indian vessels and welcomed their officers aboard our vessels as well to observe and learn.”

McDonnell embarked TR as a liaison officer to the Normandy to help facilitate the coordination of the exercise.

“My captain’s responsibility is air defense of the strike group,” he said. “He sent me here to be his voice. I pass along the word from the strike group to help coordinate between the needs of the strike group and that of my commanding officer.”

Capt. Scott Robertson, Normandy’s commanding officer, welcomed liaison officers from both Malabar partners aboard and was pleased with the collaboration so far.

“I’ve been very impressed by the professionalism and maritime skill of our Indian and Japanese navy partners, and the Normandy crew is enjoying this unique opportunity,” said Robertson. “The ADEX kicked off a great first underway day for the Malabar exercise. The purpose of this particular ADEX was to build familiarity and appreciation for the capabilities each of the participating navies brings to the modern air defense environment with a special emphasis on control of fighter aircraft.”

The exercise provided a unique opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the Indian Navy while the two partners shared communication channels to learn from one another. “We stood by as overall observers to manage the exercise if you will, and ensure that the exercise ran as smoothly as possible,” said Normandy’s Senior Chief Fire Controlman Jeremiah Lawrence. “It was a passive event for us but we learned a lot about the willingness to learn from our partner nations and they performed excellently under the guidance of the tasking at hand.”

Planning for the exercise began long before any of the partners embarked aboard each other’s’ vessels. Lt. Cmdr. Erin Ceschini, Carrier Strike Group 12’s future plans and staff meteorological and oceanographic officer, began coordinating the event in July via video teleconferencing.

“We’ve got a lot of different events planned,” said Ceschini, “We have air defense exercises, search and rescue, anti-submarine warfare events with Indian and U.S. submarines, along with a dry hook up with an Indian oiler and a war-at-sea exercise.”

Malabar 2015 includes collaboration between TR, Normandy, the Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), the Los Angeles-class submarine USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705), the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Akizuki-class destroyer JS Fuyuzuki (DD 118), the Indian Navy Deepak-class fleet tanker INS Shakti (A 57), the Brahmaputra-class guided missile frigate INS Betwa (F 39), the Rajput-class destroyer INS Ravijay (D 55), the Sindhughosh-class diesel-electric submarine INS Sindhuraj (S 57) and INS Shivalik.

“This exercise is a big deal to the Indian, Japanese and U.S. navies,” said Ceschini. “We are three democratic countries that are working together to strengthen our military relationships as well as the relationships between our nations. The success of these exercises is important especially considering the effort, planning and resources put into this exercise for these great navies to work together.”

Malabar is a continuing series of complex, high-end war fighting exercises conducted to advance multi-national maritime relationships and mutual security. Theodore Roosevelt is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations as part of a worldwide deployment en route to its new homeport in San Diego to complete a three-carrier homeport shift.