The joint exercise with the Indian Navy showed how both countries could practice wartime operations and demonstrate their shared interests

What a difference a year can make. It was in March 2020 that the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), the fourth Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered, aircraft carrier in the United States Navy, headed to port in Guam to deal with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The ship, nicked named “Big Stick,” was thoroughly cleaned and by June returned to sea. It began its most recent deployment to the Indo-Pacific on December 23.

Indian Ocean Operations

Now one year after being side lined by the coronavirus, the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG/CSG-9) recently conducted simultaneous joint multi-domain operations with the Indian Navy and Air Force in the Indian Ocean.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to conduct this exercise with the Indian Navy and Air Force,” said Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander, CSG-9. “Not only do we share a common desire for a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific, we also share common values and maritime traditions which make training together all the more meaningful. Our value together far exceeds what we can do individually to progress security, stability, and economic prosperity through our enforcement of the international rules-based order that benefits all.”

Such joint integration is seen as a key to elevate capability and capacity in the maritime domain. The U.S. Navy noted that this was a highly successful exercise that occurred on the heels of Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin’s scheduled visit to India.

The exercise with the Indian military included complex operations such as anti-submarine warfare (ASW), joint air operations, and command and control (C2) integration. It also demonstrated the capacity of the two nations to operate together to advance a common vision of the Indo-Pacific, ensuring peace and stability.

The TRCSG consists of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), Destroyer Squadron 23, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Russell (DDG 59) and USS John Finn (DDG 113).

The U.S. Navy announced that TRCSG’s operability in the region directly supports the Chief of Naval Operation’s navigation plan to master all-domain fleet operations, and exercise with like-minded navies to enhance its collective strength.

In what is clearly meant to be a message to China the TRCSG conducted a live-fire exercise in the Indian Ocean earlier in March, where units from the strike group engaged inflatable surface targets with a variety of weapons systems. Additionally, F/A-18E Super Hornets from the “Golden Warriors” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87 and the “Blue Diamonds” of VFA-146 dropped Mark 76 inert bombs, MH-60S Sea Hawks from the “Eightballers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 and MH-60R Sea Hawks from the “Wolf Pack” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75 used crew-served weapons while the crews of CG 52 and DDG 59 also fired inert rounds from their Mark 45 5-inch guns.

As the U.S. Navy’s largest forward deployed fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet routinely operates between fifty and seventy ships and submarines and 140 aircraft with approximately 20,000 Sailors. 7th Fleet’s area of operation spans more than 124 million square kilometres, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South Pacific, providing security and stability to the region. The fleet regularly interacts with thirty-five other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security while conducting a wide-range of missions to support humanitarian efforts and uphold international laws and freedoms of the sea.