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First Helicopter Cross-Decking Between U.S. and Indian Navies

An Indian Navy UH-3H helicopter is secured to the deck of USS Anchorage (LPD-23) in the foreground during a cooperative deployment in the Indian Ocean with Indian Navy guided-missile destroyer INS Rajput (D51) in the background.

An Indian Navy UH-3H helicopter touched down on San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD-23) in late December, marking the first such cross-decking between the two navies and the realization of an agreement made more than a year ago.

Anchorage and embarked Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit had just completed a port visit to Visakhapatnam, India, and joint maritime security exercises at sea with Indian guided-missile destroyer INS Rajput (D51). During the exercise, the U.S. and Indian navies conducted the first cross-decking under their Helicopter Operations from Ships other Than Aircraft Carriers (HOSTAC) agreement, according to the U.S. Navy.

“Team, I’m very proud of the great work USS Anchorage (LPD-23) did with our Indian Navy partners, providing both maritime security and humanitarian relief in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. The cooperative deployment offered our two teams the opportunity to operate side by side and on each other’s platforms, further strengthening our ability to operate together at sea,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson wrote on his Facebook page

Along with cross-decking helicopters, Indian landing craft embarked aboard Anchorage, and ship-rider exchanges occurred while underway, according to the Navy.

“This exercise strengthened our combined capability with a partner that is very important to us in the INDO-PACOM region,” Capt. Dennis Jacko, Anchorage’s commanding officer, said in a statement. “The Indian navy is very professional and capable and they did an outstanding job displaying their maritime capabilities.”

The agreement to cross-deck helicopters was formalized more than a year ago, when then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis met with his counterpart, Indian Minister of Defense Nirmala Sitharaman.

“The two emphasized the importance of strengthening maritime security cooperation, and, in support of this objective, decided to implement the program for Helicopter Operations from Ships other Than Aircraft Carriers (HOSTAC),” according to the Pentagon’s media summary of the October 2017 meeting.

In May, Mattis highlighted the importance of the Indian Ocean region and the significance of U.S. partnerships with countries such as India to U.S. military strategy by formally renaming what was U.S. Pacific Command as INDO-PACOM during the organization’s change of command ceremony.

“In recognition of the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific oceans, today we rename the U.S. Pacific Command to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command,” Mattis said during the ceremony. “Over many decades this command has repeatedly adapted to changing circumstances, and today carries that legacy forward as America focuses west.”

  • muzzleloader

    Probably the 1st Sea King most of these American sailors have ever seen, lol.

    • DaSaint

      My thoughts exactly! Interesting they picked that as opposed to a Ka-28 or Ka-31 Soviet-built helo. But I guess they figured it would be more familiar, and they’ve probably cross-decked it on similar French and UK Amphibs.

      • I don’t think it’s that interesting – the Sea King is still the most common helicopter in the Indian Navy and the Russian helicopters are dedicated AEW and ASW aircraft that wouldn’t commonly be deployed on an LPD.

        • Andy Ferguson

          Actually, some of those Kamovs are assault helos, also.

      • Andy Ferguson

        The Indians have had Sea Kings for decades. Long before the Kamovs were around.

  • Paul 2

    Pass the Curry on the left hand side.

    • DaSaint

      So now I know what you’d say if it were a Caribbean helo-capable ship.

      • Duane

        Pass the jerk sauce

      • Andy Ferguson

        Monumental – Jamaican psychiatric assessment. 😉

  • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

    Developing solid relationships with India and other Ring around China allies is critical to winning the ongoing cold war with PRC.

  • Ed L

    The Navy could fly helicopters out of the welldeck Plenty of room to fly in and out. Now to the Indian Navy. It will be nice to have an allied on the left flank in the coming war with China

  • Duane

    It is China that is surrounded by enemies on all sides .. not the USA.

  • Duane

    India is growing into a regional defense partner, if not yet an ally on paper. The more belligerent the Chinese become, the better organized the IndoPac becomes to fend them off.

    India is the second largest population nation on earth, not much less than China .. while its population are all pulling for the nation, unlike China which imprisons most of its population. India is now the world’s fifth largest economy and growing fast. The Royal Indian Navy is also growing, in numbers and capability, with one aircraft carrier, and a new ballistic missile submarine with nuke SLBMs. As the economy grows, and as China continues to grow belligerent, so will grow the RIN.

    • Royal Indian Navy? It hasn’t gone by that name since India got independence.

      • ChrisLongski

        Still, I got the point…

  • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

    Please read, and I mean actually read and understand, Alfred Thayer Mahan on Franco British rivalry. It reads like Sino-US confrontation today. With that understanding you will begin to see that the ‘Ring’ is quite good…and nearly complete.

  • Ed L

    A minor Navy. An operational fleet consists of one aircraft carrier, one amphibious transport dock, eight landing ship tanks, 11 destroyers, 13 frigates, one nuclear-powered attack submarine, one ballistic missile submarine, 14 conventionally-powered attack submarines, 22 corvettes, one mine countermeasure vessel, four fleet tankers and various other auxiliary vessels. That sounds like a nice one, two punch on the left coupled with the Vietnamese, Japanese, ROK and Taiwanese Navy on the right. Sounds like a good deal. Plus the Indian Military industrial makes a lot of good defense weapons.

  • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

    Sir, with all respect, your comment makes me believe that you have not actually read, and most certainly do not understand ADM Mahan. Applying his tenets China is France, and for exactly the same reasons susceptible to a sea powers advantages. That said, the Franco English competition in the Indian Ocean was initially Frances to loose. Britain, as do we, suffered the sea powers need to be everywhere all the time.
    So, please, do the work and actually read the book. Kindle edition was, IIRC, either free or 99 cents. The risk is that you will change your mind.
    Good luck.

    • Andy Ferguson

      Hi Mike, don’t waste your time with the Sino-troll.

      Just flag and report him.