A US Navy carrier strike group, led by USS Nimitz, will conduct basic maritime drills with Indian warships while on its way from South China Sea to deployment in the Middle East. Called “Passex” in naval parlance, the basic manoeuvre comes at a time when Indian and China are locked in a tense border confrontation in Ladakh, people familiar with the developments said on Monday.
The drills also come amidst mounting tensions in the South China Sea where the US Navy just conducted a major exercise involving USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan. “The Passex is nowhere near Andamans and Nicobar Islands. It is en route to the Gulf Region,” said a senior government official.
The Eastern Fleet of the Indian Navy is currently carrying out drills near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The two navies will conduct a passage exercise near the islands to hone interoperability, the people said.
“A passage exercise is normally undertaken whenever an opportunity arises, in contrast to pre-planned maritime drills. While the Malabar exercise will be conducted later this year, it is always good to exercise with like-minded navies and exchange best opportunities whenever there is a chance,” said naval affairs expert Captain DK Sharma (retd).
There was no official word from the navy on the exercise with the Nimitz carrier strike group.
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