SEA OF JAPAN – Ships and aircraft from the Carl Vinson Strike Group participated in a Passing Exercise (PASSEX) with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) while underway in the Sea of Japan Jan. 10.
The guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS Gridley (DDG 101) and embarked detachments of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49 maneuvered and conducted helicopter operations with the JMSDF destroyer JS Kurama (DDH 144), during the morning portion of the PASSEX, according to Stockdale’s Executive Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Arthur.
“The opportunity to work with professionals from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the ROK Navy is a huge experience for our Junior Officers,” said Arthur. “These are folks who spend a lot of time at sea and their threats are a lot closer than ours are in the United States so these are very, very professional mariners. The chance for us to work with them is a privilege and one of the best things that we can do as a ship to train our Sailors.”
Additional operations were conducted separately with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy in the late afternoon.
Stockdale is currently on its first deployment, since being commissioned on April 18, 2009. The PASSEX was the ship’s first opportunity to work with the Navy’s coalition partners in the Asia-Pacific. Arthur said the crew learned a great deal about communicating with ships from another navy.
“The first couple signals we had with them there was a little bit of a language barrier so we were working hard to understand some of the messages they were sending over,” said Arthur. “They were communicating in a code form we don’t use very much here so it was excellent training for our junior officers to use that code to encode our tactical signals such as courses and speeds.”
After a morning of engagement exercises and maneuvering, Stockdale and Gridley joined Kurama in close formation for a photo exercise, during which an HSL 49 Det. 2 SH-60B Seahawk piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Steve Audelo landed aboard Kurama bearing gifts.
“We did a deck landing qualification aboard Kurama where we exchanged gifts from the commanding officer of USS Stockdale and the commanding officer of the Kurama and brought back gifts for other ships in the strike group,” said Audelo. “The crew was very professional and the ship itself was beautiful, very clean.”
Stockdale’s Force Protection Officer Ens. Charlie Hymen said the exercise was a great welcome to 7th Fleet.
“After working with our peers for the past six weeks during Composite Training Unit Exercise and in transit, it was a lot of fun to see how another Navy operates,” said Hymen.