UK, Japan staging first bilateral amphibious drill off Japan

The UK Royal Navy and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force are scheduled to conduct their first joint amphibious exercise in Japanese waters next week.

Illustration: Royal Navy file photo of HMS Albion

Taking place on August 23 and 24, the exercise will be spearheaded by Royal Navy amphibious assault ship HMS Albion and the JMSDF tank landing ship JS Shimokita.

JMSDF landing craft air cushioned (LCAC) vehicles and Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) reconnaissance boats will be joined by British landing craft and patrol boats for landing evolutions and other exercises at the Numazu Beach training area and nearby marine and air areas.

Announcing the maneuver, Japan’s defense minister Itsunori Onodera said he hopes that through this exercise and similar initiatives in the future, Japan would further enhance cooperation with the UK.

The exercise is being conducted with the purpose of improving the tactical capabilities of the Japanese Self Defense Force and enhancing coordination with the British Armed Forces.

HMS Albion is the third Royal Navy ship to deploy to the Asia Pacific region this year. The assault ship has so far spent eight months deployed, getting underway from Devonport in February this year and arriving in Japan early July.

On the return leg of its deployment, HMS Albion is scheduled to join Saif Sareea III in Oman in October – one of Britain’s biggest exercises in the Middle East this century.