Indian, U.S. and Japanese Big Decks Drill in the Indo-Pacific

June 14, 2023 3:46 PM
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Murasame-class destroyer JS Samidare (DD-106) steam in formation during a multiple large deck event on June 9, 2023. US Navy Photo

The U.S., Japan, Canada and France exercised with two U.S. carriers and a Japanese big deck in the Philippine Sea last week as part of the Indo-Pacific Command’s Large Scale Global Exercise (LSGE) 2023, Japan and the U.S. announced.

The U.S. and Japan both released statements on the exercises, although the two releases had different accounts of the exercises. Both releases stated the exercise was part of LSGE 2023 with the JMSDF release also referring to the exercise as a “Multi Big-Deck Event.” The U.S release stated the exercise took place in the Philippine Sea, while the JMSDF release place the location as being from east of Okinawa to the East China Sea.

Ships taking part in the exercise were:


  • USS Nimitz (CVN-68)
  • USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76)

Helicopter Destroyer:

  • JS Izumo (DDH-183)


  • USS Bunker Hill (CG-52)
  • USS Robert Smalls (CG-62)
  • USS Antietam (CG-54)


  • USS Decatur (DDG-73)
  • USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93)
  • USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115)
  • USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108)
  • JS Samidare (DD-106)


  • FS Lorraine (D 657)
  • HMCS Montreal (FFH336)

The JMSDF release said both the U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force also took part in the exercise with the U.S. Air Force dispatching B-52 bombers while the JASDF sent F-15 fighters of the 9th Air Wing together with the South West Aircraft Control & Warning Wing.

It was the first time the two U.S. strike groups have operated together since June 2020, according to the U.S. statement.

“The combined operations of CSG-5 and CSG-11 – exercising with our Canadian, French and Japanese allies – demonstrates our interoperability, combined capability and common commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Japan-based CSG-5 commander Rear Adm. Michael Donnelly in a statement.
“As a Pacific nation, our presence allows us to coordinate across all domains and maintain a responsive maritime force that is able to support stability and security in the region by being ready across the full spectrum of naval capabilities.”

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Izumo-class destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) steams in formation during a multiple large deck event. Ships involved in the event are the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) on June 9, 2023. US Navy Photo

Izumo and Samirdare, together with destroyer JS Shiranui (DD-120), form the first surface unit of IPD23, the JMSDF’s multi-taskforce deployment throughout the Indo-Pacific.

The first surface unit set out on June 1 for a three-and-a-half-month deployment.

The second surface unit consists of landing ship tank JS Shimokita (LST-4002) and is expected to depart soon.

The third surface unit, consisting of frigate JS Kumano (FFM-2), completed its deployment Saturday when it arrived home at Yokosuka Naval Base. It set out from there on April 20 and made visits to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, in addition to conducting exercises with various navies throughout the deployment. The last exercise was Thursday where Kumano, a JMSDF submarine and a JASDF F-2 fighter conducted tactical exercises with Lorraine in the southern waters of the main island of Shikoku under exercise Oguri-Verny 23-3.

Japan continues to maintain its ballistic missile defense system on its current alert posture despite the expiry of a North Korean satellite launch window last month.

This week, Japan’s Ministry of Defence stated that it will continue to maintain its posture to destroy any launched North Korean missiles that appear to be heading towards Japanese territory.

Tokyo issued the order May 29 ahead of North Korea’s failed military satellite launch on May 31. On Tuesday, Japan Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the defense ministry would continue to analyze and evaluate the situation and lift the alert posture when it felt it was appropriate to do so.

Submarine JS Yaeshio (SS-598) will deploy to Guam from June 23 to July 22 for anti-submarine warfare training there, according to a Thursday JMSDF release.

It is the first time in 2023 that a submarine will be deployed to the United States for training, according to the release. The JMSDF has conducted this deployment every year since 1963, and this marks the 85th time a JMSDF submarine has been deployed to the United States since then.

In the Arabian Sea, the Indian Navy conducted dual carrier operations marking a return to a capability, which had ended in 2016, when carrier INS Viraat (R22) was withdrawn from service.

The two carriers involved Saturday were INS Vikramaditya (R33) and INS Vikrant (R11). The Indian Navy in a release stated that 35 aircraft from the two carriers comprising of MiG-29K fighters and MH-60R, Kamov, Sea King, Chetak and ALH helicopters took part in the drills, which involved seamless integration of the two carriers. It did not release details of the other ships involved in the drills, only stating a diverse fleet of ships and submarines took part in the exercise.

“The successful demonstration of two-carrier battle group operations serves as a powerful testament to the pivotal role of sea-based air power in maintaining maritime superiority. As India continues to strengthen its security apparatus, the significance of aircraft carriers will remain paramount in shaping the nation’s defense strategy and promoting regional stability” stated the release.

Previously HMS Hermes (R12), the Royal Navy carrier played a pivotal role in the Falklands War before being sold to India in 1986 and entering service with the Indian Navy in 1987. Indigenously built Vikrant was commissioned in September 2022 after a much-delayed construction period with the keel being laid in 2009 and the carrier launched in 2013. The Indian Navy is pushing for funding for a second indigenously built carrier to be built.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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