USS Defender
Decommissioned October 1, 2014
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USS Defender Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of U.S. – Japan Security Treaty
OKINAWA, Japan – The mine-countermeasures ship USS Defender (MCM 2) departed Okinawa, Japan May 24 after a five-day port visit. During the visit, the crew conducted personnel exchanges and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty with Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) counterparts at White Beach Naval Facility.

Defender hosted three opportunities for members of the JMSDF minesweeping community to tour their Avenger-class mine sweeper. Many of the Japanese Sailors were interested in the number of crew members on a U.S. minesweep and noted that they use the same variable depth sonar for minehunting.

U.S. Sailors also visited the JS Hachijyo (MSO 303) and JS Aoshima (MSC 689) as well as the JMSDF minesweeping support vessel JS Uraga (MST 463). Uraga is designed to provide supplies and fuel to underway minesweepers for both U.S. Navy and JMSDF ships.

“Getting the chance to tour the ships of our Japanese (mine warfare) counterparts was extremely eye opening and rewarding,” said Defender Mineman 2nd Class Martin Ballman.

Defender later practiced astern refueling with Uraga on May 22, working together with the JMSDF minesweepers and Uraga to develop standard procedures for astern refueling.

After the ship tours and meetings ended, both U.S. and Japanese Sailors got together on the beach for a tug-of-war competition, picnic and barbeque. The events gave the two navies another avenue to continue to get to know one another and better understand each other.

“It was great having the opportunity to interact with and build international friendships with JMSDF personnel. Everyone appeared to really enjoy it,” said Lt.j.g. Matthew Schaefer, Defender’s supply officer.

Signed on January 19, 1960, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan has served as the basis for the strong navy-to-navy relationship between the two countries.

Defender is one of four Avenger-class mine countermeasure ships forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan. They report to the Commander, Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet, Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, whose headquarters is located in Okinawa, Japan.
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