BAY OF BENGAL - Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1 Sailors completed seven days of bilateral exercises with the Indian Navy April 16, concluding Exercise Malabar 2012.
CSG-1 incorporates the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97).
Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10) also provided support for the exercise.
The frigate INS Satpura (F48), destroyers INS Ranvir (D54) and INS Ranvijay (D55), and corvette INS Kulish (P63) represented the Indian Navy, along with Indian Navy replenishment oiler INS Shakti (A57).
The exercise took place in approximately 450 nautical miles of sea and air space, and offered the opportunity for the U.S. and Indian naval services to conduct communications exercises, surface action group (SAG) operations, helicopter cross-deck evolutions, and gunnery exercises. The participants split into two SAGs, with Bunker Hill leading one and Satpura leading the other. Carl Vinson and CVW-17 provided air support for the exercise.
“We’ve witnessed some superb seamanship and professionalism from our Indian Navy counterparts. We’ve had (Satpura) behind us for our horizon reference unit during our night flight operations and they’ve done a great job providing that service for us. They’re a very capable Navy,” said Carl Vinson’s Commanding Officer Capt. Kent D. Whalen.
The two services’ Sailors also had the opportunity to experience their counterparts’ underway life with a series of Navy Liaison Officer exchanges.
“When you spend a couple of days with a different Navy and a different ethos, it certainly broadens horizons and I think it makes us more appreciative of the other country’s capabilities,” Whalen noted. “It strengthens those ties to partnership, and we get to know each other.”
Carl Vinson conducted a historic replenishment-at-sea (RAS) exercise with the Shakti April 13, the first one between a U.S. aircraft carrier and an Indian oiler.
“Every time we operate with a different Navy, they learn things and we learn things. These kinds of exercises build goodwill and strengthen the partnership,” Whalen said. “The RAS was historic, and the Gold Eagle Team continues to do great work. I’m very impressed with the crew’s performance; they just keep getting better and better.”
“We saw we can be successful working together, that we have allies out here willing to work with us. To be a part of that RAS meant a lot to us in Deck Department,” added Lt. j.g. Dustin Miller, Carl Vinson’s assistant first lieutenant.
CSG-1 is conducting a Western Pacific deployment.