Indian Navy warships will be conducting sea exercises with the USS McCampbell, a US warship, as part of the Malabar 2013 exercises from November 7.
The ship, which is an Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer, is part of Desron Fifteen, the US Navy’s only permanently forward deployed Destroyer Squadron which is responsible for readiness, tactical and administrative responsibilities of seven Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers.
Addressing a press conference onboard along with commanding officer of USS McCampbell Sharif Calfee and US Consul General Jennifer McIntyre here on Monday, Desron 15 Destroyer Squadron Commodore Captain Paul Lyons said that the exercise was a bilateral naval field training exercise and represented an important opportunity to promote peace and stability besides demonstrating commitment to regional partners. He welcomed India getting the $2.33 billion Russian-made aircraft carrier on November 16 and said it would help further strengthen the ties between the navies of US and India.
The ship is equipped with air defence mechanisms, in addition to its Mark IV five inch gun that can strike a target within 12 nautical miles. Commissioned in August 2002, the ship is on its maiden visit to Chennai Port and docked at the port on November 3.
It will be stationed in the city for the next couple of days before embarking for the naval exercises, said commander Calfee. He said the crew, for whom this is the first visit to Chennai, would be visiting shrines in the city and a city school. “We will be playing a cricket match with the Indian Navy,” said Calfee adding that the crew is a mix from the 50 states of United States. “We have people from a dozen nations and 21 per cent of the total crew is women,” he said.
Jennifer McIntyre said that Malabar 2013 was a continuing series of exercises to advance multinational maritime relationships and mutual security issues between US and India.
“These ship visits not only provide US sailors an opportunity to engage with Indian Navy counterparts but are also for cultural exchange,” she said.
Talking about the peacetime international operations, Commander Calfee said the warship played a key role in post-Sendai-earthquake Japan besides rescuing 15 Filipinos from the sea on 2012.
The US Navy personnel took the visiting journalists to the ship’s bridge, the room or platform from which the ship can be commanded. The room had digital navigation system besides other technical features. The ship also had a dimly lit room known as Combat Information System. “It is from here the US navy personnel plan air and surface strategies against the enemies. We also perform integrated operations from here,” said Calfee.