Indian destroyer INS Kolkata and tanker INS Shakti participated in the combined naval exercise in the disputed South China Sea amidst the US-China conflict over the commercial control of the area.
Indian Navy joined the naval exercise by the US, Japan, and the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea. The warships from these countries performed six-day naval drills in the combative waterway, where China is showing power.
On Thursday, the coordinated “group sail” included Indian destroyer INS Kolkata and tanker INS Shakti. The joint naval exercise involved aircraft carrier MSDF Izumo & Guided Missile Destroyer JMSDF Murasame of Japan. The Philippines patrol vessel BRP Andres Bonifacio also incorporated in the naval exercise conducted from May 3 to 9. Similarly, American destroyer USS Williams P Lawrence also participated in the sea drill.
“The group sail was aimed to deepen the existing partnership and foster mutual understanding among the participating navies. It showcased India’s commitment to operating with like-minded nations. This is to ensure safe maritime environment through enhanced inter-operability,” said Indian Navy spokesperson Captain D K Sharma.
Commander Andrew J Klug said that the US team was “really excited” to be a part of the event. “Professional engagements with our allies, partners, and friends in the region are opportunities to build upon our existing relationships. We learn from each other,” said the captain of the US destroyer.
The naval exercise has come at the time of heightened tension between China and the US over the trade war. The two nations are locked in a conflict for the commercial control of South China Sea. The islands here account for 12 per cent of global fishing and houses possible oil and gas reserve. About 30% of the world’s trade worth USD 3.5 trillion passes through this area.