PHILIPPINE SEA (April 3, 2011) Sailors from the Indian Navy prepare to maneuver a rigid hull inflatable boat into position alongside the guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63), to pick up Indian Navy officers as part of exercise Malabar 2011. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron M. Pineda\Released)

PHILIPPINE SEA – The United States and Indian navies officially started operations marking the beginning of the joint exercise Malabar 2011, April 2.

The exercise will incorporate American and Indian personnel and assets in a bilateral field training exercise to enhance bonds and relationships between the two navies. The exercise will also increase compatibility and interoperability between the two maritime forces, fostering common security goals.

The guided-missile frigate USS Rueben James (FFG 57) Commanding Officer Cmdr. David Miller, said the exercise will enhance American and Indian military coordination.

“We’re excited about having the opportunity to operate with the Indian navy. Anytime we have support from the Indian Navy it acts as a force multiplier,” said Miller. “We share many common objectives in the region.”

Indian pilot Lt. K. Srinivasan from the Indian Navy guided-missile destroyer INS Delhi (D 61), embarked aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) as a liaison officer, said the exercise fosters a good environment for the two navies to learn from each other and test their compatibility.

“I’ve seen two Malabar exercises as a pilot and there’s always a lot for the Indian navy to learn and the American navy as well,” said Srinivasan. “The exercise is very important. You don’t really know how well two navies will perform together until you operate together.”

The Indian Navy Rajput-class guided-missile destroyer INS Ranvijay (D 55) Commanding Officer Capt. Dil Bag-Singh, said he looks forward to exercises like this, because it strengthens the bond and personal relationship between the two navies.

“It’s a pleasure to be in an exercise with the U.S. Navy. It’s the largest most powerful Navy in the world,” said Bag-Singh. “This exercise helps us strengthen our interoperability and work on strategy. We have common goals and interests in this region and I’m sure this exercise will be a success.”

The ships participating in this year’s Malabar exercise include Rueben James, the destroyers Stethem and USS Sterett (DDG 104) and a nuclear powered attack submarine. Indian Navy ships include fuel tanker INS Jyoti (A 58), guided-missile corvette INS Kirch (P62), and the destroyers Delhi, Ranvijay, and INS Ranvir (D54).