Indian Navy Vice Adm. Harish Bisht, commanding-in-chief, Eastern Naval Command; Rear Adm. Koji Manabe, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Escort Flotilla 3 commander; and Rear Adm. Brian Hurley, U.S. 7th Fleet deputy commander, shake hands after a Malabar 2016 press conference at U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo. (U.S. Navy/MC1 David R. Krigbaum)

SASEBO, Japan - American, Indian and Japanese Sailors began exercise Malabar 16 with a welcoming ceremony and press conference at U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo, June 10.

A trilateral maritime exercise, Malabar is designed to enhance dynamic cooperation between the Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and U.S. naval forces in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

JMSDF hosted the welcoming ceremony for the Indian Navy shortly after the last Indian ship, INS Kirch, pulled into port, mooring alongside other Indian naval vessels and near its American and Japanese counterparts. Afterwards JMSDF Escort Flotilla 3 Commander Rear Adm. Koji Manabe, U.S. 7th Fleet Deputy Commander Rear Adm. Brian Hurley and Indian Navy Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command Vice Adm. Harish Bisht, took questions from local media about the exercise.

“I'd like to sincerely thank my Indian and Japanese counterparts for making it possible for the U.S. Navy to once again partner with your fine maritime forces and professionals so we can better learn from one another and strengthen our friendships, which in the end is really what this exercise is all about,” said Hurley in his opening remarks.

Malabar will be composed of two phases, an in-port phase that will be carried out in Sasebo and at-sea in the Philippine Sea. The navies will train together in areas such as maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare, medical operations and visit board search and seizure operations.

Indian Navy fleet tanker INS Shakti (A 57), missile corvette Kirch (P 62) and stealth multi-role frigates INS Sahyadri (F 49) and INS Satpura (F 48), Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181) and U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 13), were in Sasebo for the in-port phase of the exercise.

Participants in Sasebo will have professional exchanges and training on carrier strike group operations; maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations; surface and anti-submarine warfare; medical operations; damage control; explosive ordnance disposal (EOD); helicopter operations; and visit board search and seizure (VBSS) operations.

Malabar began as a bilateral American-Indian exercise in 1992 but has included Japan since 2007.

“The seas are continuous, India can be a neighbor of Japan, Japan can be a neighbor of India,” said Bisht. “There is always enough scope for expansion as far as maritime security is concerned.”

Malabar 2016 builds on progress made during previous exercises, improving participating nations’ ability to conduct joint and multilateral operations, and improves multilateral coordination and capacity.

For a list of participating Indian forces, please refer to the Indian Navy Headquarters.

For a list of participating Japanese forces, please refer to the Japan Maritime Staff Office.