Maritime forces from the U.S., Australia, India and Japan started Phase II of the MALABAR 2021 maritime exercise in the Bay of Bengal on Oct. 11, the U.S. Navy said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Navy is hosting this year’s exercise, which includes various kinds of tactical training, with specific interactions designed to enhance interoperability among U.S. forces and Royal Australian Navy, Indian Navy, and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF).

The first phase of MALABAR previously began in August in the Philippine Sea. That includes maritime, anti-submarine warfare, air warfare, cross-deck flight, and maritime interdiction operations as well as live-fire gunnery events and replenishments-at-sea.

The Navy said planning and executing this kind of multinational exercise in two phases “allows participating nations to operate and train in two different regions of the Indo-Pacific.”

The second phase is set to include surface and air expendable mobile anti-submarine warfare training target exercise (EMATTEX), cross-deck helicopter operations, surface gunnery exercise, and replenishments-at-sea. 

“The intent is to enhance integrated maritime operations between the Quad countries within the Indian Ocean Region,” the Navy said in a statement.

U.S. Navy participants include Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1, made of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2; Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57); Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG-106); and a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.

The Royal Australian Navy is participating with the Anzac-class frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) and HMAS Sirius (O 266); the Indian Navy is participating with the Rajput-class guided-missile destroyer INS Ranvijay (D55), Shivalik-class multi-role stealth frigate INS Satpura (F48), and a P-8I maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft; and the JMSDF is being represented by the Izumo-class multipurpose operation destroyer JS Kaga (DDH 184) and Murasame-class destroyer JS Murasame (DD 101).

“MALABAR 21 improves the compatibility of our forces in support of our mutual desire for unmatched maritime security in the global commons. Unit integration during complex task group maneuvers further demonstrates our ability to effectively work with our Indo-Pacific allies and partners and win in any contested maritime environment,” Rear. Adm. Dan Martin, commander, of Carrier Strike Group 1, said in a statement.

Royal Australian Navy HMAS Ballarat Commanding Officer Cmdr. Antony Pisani added that their participating “builds our collective ability to meet shared challenges in pursuit of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific. Close cooperation with key partners India, Japan, and the United States fosters our professional mariner relationships and enhance our interoperability.”

MALABAR Phase II comes a week after U.S., U.K. and Japanese naval groups operated jointly in the Philippine Sea, separate from this set of exercises. That operation included two U.S. carrier strike groups, the U.K. carrier strike group, and participants from the Netherlands, Canada, and New Zealand (Defense Daily, Oct. 11).