July 5 (UPI) -- A Chinese intelligence-gathering ship was deployed to the Indian Ocean as the United States, India and Japan prepared to conduct naval drills in the Bay of Bengal.
China's Haiwingxing was seen in the region, along with a Yuan-class diesel-electric submarine, India's Times News Network reported Wednesday.
The drills known as the Malabar exercises are expected to begin on Monday and were originally a joint exercise involving U.S. and Indian naval forces.
Japan's maritime self-defense force joined the exercises in 2007, and became a permanent partner in 2015, a move that significantly expanded cooperative training.
The U.S. Navy is to deploy the nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Nimitz, including its squadron of F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters. It is part of a carrier strike group that includes a Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser, a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.
India's navy is planning to dispatch the 44,570-ton aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, to lead a flotilla of six to seven frontline warships and a Kilo-class submarine for the 10-day drill.
Tokyo is deploying the 27,000-ton Izumo-class helicopter destroyer.
In 2016, a Chinese intelligence-gathering ship reportedly followed or chased an Indian warship taking part in the Malabar exercises, according to South Korean news service Newsis.
On Sunday, a Chinese intelligence ship was seen in Japanese territorial waters near Hokkaido, Kyodo News reported.
At least 13 Chinese naval ships have been sighted in the Indian Ocean over the last two months, according to Times News Network.