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American, Japanese Mine Countermeasure Ships Participate in PASSEX

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071002-21
Release Date: 10/2/2007 6:24:00 PM

By Ensign Clinton Schuhart, USS Guardian Public Affairs

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- USS Guardian (MCM 5) concluded a successful two-day passing exercise (PASSEX) with a Japanese maritime asset Sept. 25.

The U.S. forward-deployed mine countermeasures ship departed Sasebo, Japan Sept. 24 and joined the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) mine hunter, JDS Ukushima (MSO 686).

“Exercises like this one are essential in building the effective bilateral capabilities of the two navies,” said Lt. Cmdr. Steven H. DeMoss, Guardian commanding officer. “The proficiency of the JMSDF sailors is always impressive and we learn something from every exercise. A close relationship with our maritime partners is fundamental to hone mission readiness.”

The multi-ship training evolutions included communication drills, precision tactical maneuvering and a mine hunting demonstration by the Ukushima.

A significant part of any successful bilateral exercise is the forging of personal relationships between the country’s service members, according to senior leaders of both nations. Crew members from each ship conducted a personnel exchange to allow those crew members to witness Navy life from the point of view of their counterparts.

“It was a unique experience being on a Japanese ship. I was able to see both the similarities and the differences of shipboard life on a Japanese mine hunter and one of our own,” said Mineman Seaman Travis Frazey after spending most of the second day aboard Ukushima as part of the exchange. “The Japanese sailors were very interested in sharing information on tactics and equipment. I think that exercises like this are a great way for us to learn from each other and it brings our navies closer together.”

Overall, bilateral exercises like this enable participating military forces to increase interoperability, and allow the United States and Japan to demonstrate its commitment to each other, according to senior leaders of all ships involved.

The two-day exercise allowed each of the ships to simultaneously perform a wide range of drills and evolutions essential to their role in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, said DeMoss.

The enthusiasm for carrying out that role together was displayed by Sailors from both ships.

“I can’t wait to work with them again,” said Frazey.

Guardian is a mine countermeasures ship forward-deployed to Sasebo. Guardian and serve under Task Force 76, which serves as the 7th Fleet’s mine countermeasures arm in forward-deployed operations.

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