The US, Japan and Australia conducted trilateral naval exercises in the South China Sea on Monday, the US Seventh Fleet announced yesterday.
It was their fifth joint operations this year in the fleet’s area of operations, it said in a statement.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain joined the JS Kirisame of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Arunta.
Photo: EPA-EFE / Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Tarleton
The Arunta’s commanding officer, Commander Troy Duggan, said that Australia was continuing to build on its already close relationship with Japan and the US.
“This activity is a valuable and important opportunity for all three nations,” Duggan was quoted as saying in a news release from the US Pacific Fleet. “Operating with our partners is essential for building and maintaining high levels of interoperability, and contributes to our shared commitment to the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.”
Operations together included surface, subsurface and air defense exercises, and a variety of other training events to strengthen regional maritime security operations.
Two US Navy aircraft carriers, the USS Nimitz and the Seventh Fleet’s USS Ronald Reagan, conducted exercises in the South China Sea in July.
Meanwhile, Canberra and New Delhi yesterday announced that Australia would join the annual Malabar naval exercises to be held off the Indian coast with Japan and the US at the end of this year.
The exercise is to be held in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea to “strengthen the coordination between the navies,” the Indian Ministry of Defense said in the statement.
The decision to include Australia in the drills for the first time since 2007 means that all the members of the regional grouping known as the Quad would be engaged militarily.
“Exercise Malabar also showcases the deep trust between four major Indo-Pacific democracies and their shared will to work together on common security interests,” Australian Minister for Defense Linda Reynolds said in the statement.
The exercise was about “demonstrating our collective resolve to support an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific” — an allusion to countering China’s power, she said.
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