What’s in the news?
- Indian naval ships recently conducted a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the United States Navy’s USS Nimitz carrier strike group near the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) islands.
- The USS Nimitz is the world’s largest warship and the exercise between the two navies assumed significance as it took place in the midst of China’s renewed military assertiveness in eastern Ladakh as well as in the South China Sea.
- With regular large-scale exercises deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the India Navy has recently undertaken several PASSEXs, which officials described as an opportunity to improve interoperability on the high seas.
- The Navy is keeping a close watch on the movement in the IOR of Chinese naval ships, whose presence has gone up considerably over the years in the name of anti-piracy patrols. In 2017, China opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
- The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are more than 1,200 km from mainland India. A significant volume of China’s oil imports passes through the Malacca Strait, which is south-east of these islands.
- Given their strategic location, India is also undertaking major infrastructure expansion plans on the A&N island chain.
- Indian warships are deployed from as far as the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Strait and northern Bay of Bengal to the southeast coast of Africa.
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