Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, VP-8 Conduct MINEX

Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, VP-8 Conduct MINEX

The “Fighting Tigers” of Patrol Squadron (VP)8 took part in a coordinated operations mining exercise (MINEX) with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), July 19.

The exercise took place in northern Japan’s Mutsu Bay and consisted of VP-8 and JMDSF P-3C Orion aircraft operating with the Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian (MCM 5), as well as 23 Japanese small mine countermeasures ships (SMCMS) and aircraft from the 111th Helicopter Flight Squadron.

The focus of the exercise was on maintaining clear and precise communication and coordination with the bilateral partners, while also concentrating on tactical mine employment, hunting, and recovery.

During the exercise, The “Fighting Tigers” successfully coordinated and executed the employment of two MK-65 Quick Strike Mines between two rows of Japanese ships. The MK-65 is a recoverable inert-loaded mine, identical in size and weight to its explosive-loaded service mine counterpart, which is employed by the P-3C Orion, B-52H Stratofortress aircraft, F/A-18A-D Hornet, and B-1B Lancer.

The mines were hunted using SONAR and later recovered by a team of highly trained deep sea divers.

“Working with the Japanese forces is always a rewarding experience,” said Lt. Dan Kuriluk, aircraft commander for the mission. “The mission was challenging. Overcoming the initial language barrier, as well as flying between mountains, while in the vicinity of so many ships made it tough, but I’m extremely proud of the way our entire crew prepared and performed today.”

According to Lt. Jack Vine, a VP-8 patrol plane pilot, preparation and training were the keys to success for the Tigers.

“It was such a valuable training experience,” he said. “Scenery was breath taking, the flying was challenging; it was the experience of a lifetime,” Vine said.

“The crew performed flawlessly today,” said Lt. Stephanie Sandifer, VP-8’s tactical coordinator. “They are always consummate professionals, but today I’m especially proud of them.”

Based in Jacksonville, Fla., the “Fighting Tigers” are currently on a six-month deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

Naval Today Staff, July 24, 2012; Image: US Navy