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Essex Participates in Sister-Ship Exchange

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070531-01
Release Date: 5/31/2007 4:30:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Corey Truax, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- USS Essex (LHD 2) hosted officers from a Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) ship May 9 as part of an ongoing sister-ship exchange program.

Both Essex and the destroyer JS Kurama (DDH 114) serve as flagships out of Sasebo. Yet they have different tactical missions.

The exchange program serves not only to strengthen the ties between the local JMSDF and U.S. Navy forces but also contributes to professional development for both officer corps.

"Our sister-ship relationship with Kurama allows us to maintain a strong bond of camaraderie with our JMSDF partners while providing an excellent vehicle for cross training of our officer corps," said Capt. Brian T. Donegan, Essex commanding officer. "The collocation of JMSDF Escort Flotilla 2's destroyers with Expeditionary Strike Group 7's amphibious ships provides some unique opportunities for both countries' forces."

This visit included briefs conducted by both ships which allowed Kurama and Essex officers to learn about each other’s primary mission areas and compare their ship characteristics and operations.

“There are a lot of similarities between our ships,” said Lt. Delbert D. Toney, Essex assistant operations officer. “They are dedicated to their mission just like we are dedicated to ours.”

After the briefs, Kurama officers toured Essex and had an opportunity to engage their counterparts in discussions about missions and operations. Topics ranged from air traffic control, surface craft operations and ship's self-defense to traditional meals and wardroom customs.

"This visit was a great learning experience for both ships but we are ready to move beyond ship visits," said Donegan. "We're looking forward to expanding the exchange program to include underway operations later this year."

Essex is the only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship and serves Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, with an operating detachment in Sasebo.

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