US Navy, JMSDF in mine warfare drill off Japan

The US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) began a mine warfare exercise off the coast of southwestern Japan on 28 January 2021.

The exercise, named Mine Warfare Exercise (MIWEX) 1JA, is part of an annual series of exercises between the U.S. Navy and the JMSDF designed to increase proficiency in mine countermeasure operations between the two forces.

During the nine-day exercise, participants work together to clear a route for ships through a simulated minefield using unit-level mine warfare tactics to include mine hunting, detection, and neutralization.

Capt. Derek Brady, the commodore of Mine Countermeasures Squadron Seven, said: “While it is always good any time we can practice interoperability with our allies, the true benefit of this exercise is the opportunity to employ new techniques and equipment like the Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures (ExMCM) Company. The experience gained helps us better map the future for mine warfare in the Pacific“.

Courtesy of the US Navy
Courtesy of the US Navy

Lt. Nick Woods, the officer in charge of Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures Company 1-1, added: “Mine warfare exercises like 1JA reinforce our partnership and interoperability with the highly skilled Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Simultaneously, they allow our ExMCM forces to hone the edge by rapidly deploying a scaled force package to a vessel of opportunity and conducting full-spectrum, detect-to-engage mine warfare“.

JMSDF Mine Warfare Force and Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 commanders work together throughout the exercise to direct mine hunting tasks for US Navy and JMSDF units.

This training allows all the units to practice communicating and operating in a combined environment and learn to maximize their cumulative mine hunting capability.

Rear Adm. Fukuda Tatsuya, the Commander of the Mine Warfare Force, stated: “This is our second bilateral mine sweeping exercise conducted in Ise Bay. This exercise follows the ones held in Mutsu Bay and Hyuga-nada Sea last year.

Cooperation between the JMSDF and the US Navy in the field of mine warfare is essential to ensure the safety of shipping, and I am confident that the improved mine warfare capabilities and enhanced cooperation between us through this exercise will contribute to the stability of the Indo-Pacific region“.

It is worth noting that US Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians, assigned to expeditionary mine countermeasures capability of Task Force 75 are embarked on JMSDF’s Uraga-class mine warfare command ship JS Uraga (MST 463).

Mine Countermeasure Squadron (COMCMRON) 7 is forward-deployed to Japan and consists of USS Patriot (MCM 7), USS Pioneer (MCM 9), USS Warrior (MCM 10), and USS Chief (MCM 14) in Sasebo, and Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, Detachment 2A.

Photo: Courtesy of the US Navy