The Royal Australian Navy has joined its regional partners in the Indo-Pacific for high-end training exercises, which Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has said would strengthen maritime interoperability and reaffirm established ties.
Australia, India, Japan and the US have commenced Exercise Malabar 2020 — an annual naval exercise designed to enhance maritime interoperability in support of regional peace and security.
HMAS Ballarat has joined Indian Navy Ships Shakti, Ranvijay, Sukanya, Shivalik; Indian submarine Sindhuraj; Indian Navy aircraft; USS John S. McCain and Japanese Ship Ōnami.
Exercise Malabar will involve a range of high-end training drills, which include air defence and anti-submarine exercises, aviation drills, communications tests, and at-sea replenishment between ships.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds highlighted the importance of close co-operation between the regional partners amid ongoing threats to stability in the region.
“Exercise Malabar is an important opportunity to work in concert with like-minded nations to support a secure, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Participation in sophisticated exercises like Malabar not only highlights the strategic trust between the members, but also strengthens our collective ability to contribute to regional security.
“India and Australia are natural partners in the Indo-Pacific, and Exercise Malabar is a clear demonstration of the depth of trust and co-operation between our defence organisations.”
Australia was invited to participate in the naval exercise alongside permanent participants India, the US, and Japan, for the first time since 2007.
The exercise will wrap up on Friday, 6 November.
[Related: HMAS Ballarat gears up for Exercise Malabar]