YOKOSUKA, Japan - The guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) returned to Yokosuka, Japan, Dec. 13.
Lassen joined USS George Washington (CVN 73) Carrier Strike Group during the past two weeks to participate in exercises with the Republic of Korea (ROK) navy and air force and with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) during Keen Sword 2011.
Exercises with the ROK military in waters west of the Korean peninsula were planned months in advance to increase the interoperability between the ROK navy and U.S. Navy. The two navies participated in highly coordinated drills including anti-submarine warfare and anti-air warfare scenarios.
The exercises also provided the opportunity for the U.S. to reinforce and emphasize its commitment to the Republic of Korea.
Following the completion of Korean naval exercises Dec. 1, Lassen took part in Keen Sword 2011 with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces.
Joined by the attack submarines USS San Francisco (SSN 711) and USS Houston (SSN 713), and the Japanese destroyers JS Hatakaze (DDG 171) and JS Hamagiri (DD 155), Lassen was the only U.S. surface ship playing the role of opposition forces.
"Taking part in exercises like these is what being forward deployed is all about," said Cmdr. H. B. Le, USS Lassen commanding officer. "Working together with our allies' military forces — particularly the maritime forces — improves our mutual interoperability and promotes regional security and stability in the Western Pacific. It also supports U.S. 7th Fleet's persistent priority to develop and build maritime partnerships."
Earlier this year Lassen was presented the Commander, Naval Surface Forces Battle Effectiveness Award and awarded the 2010 Association of Old Crows Outstanding Navy (Surface) Unit Award.
Lassen's very own Chief Operational Specialist (SW) Samira McBride was recognized for her individual performance when she was selected as one the Navy's four Sailors of the Year.
Away from its forward-deployed port for 201 days in 2010, Lassen's crew made several port calls to Saipan, Korea, India, Guam, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and locations in Japan.
USS Lassen will hold its sixth change of command ceremony Dec. 17, as Cmdr. Walter C. Wrye IV will assume duties as Lassen's seventh commanding officer. Lassen is assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.
For more news from Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c7f/.