Naval warships, aircraft carriers and submarines from the U.S., India and Japan steamed into the Bay of Bengal on Saturday as they took part in joint military exercises off India’s east coast, signaling the growing strategic ties among the three countries as they face up to a rising China.

The sea drills, part of the six-day-long Malabar exercises, will cover the full spectrum of naval maneuvers, including military-to-military coordination and anti-submarine warfare, according to a joint statement. The U.S. has deployed the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, a missile cruiser and a nuclear-powered submarine for the annual exercises, which end Monday. “India and Japan both are fantastic partners of the United States,” Capt. Craig Clapperton, commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, told reporters on board the ship. “We share a great deal in common, and we certainly have very strong economic, military and political relationships and friendships with India and Japan.” MORE