TOKYO – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) participated in a demonstration of interoperability and humanitarian assistance between the U.S. and the Japanese Self Defense Forces (JSDF) during the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Drill (TMG) by providing transporting stranded Japanese citizens out of the area, Feb 3.
The goal of the TMG drill is to the make emergency responders adept in and dealing with natural disasters, working on the ability to react with a wide range of humanitarian support, by distributing various responsibilities and task while coordinating with each other’s counterparts.
“On March 11, there were six million people stranded in Tokyo,” said Theodore Shaw the Naval forces Japan’s emergency management officer. “ So today’s exercise involves the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, Japanese police and Japanese coast guard practicing moving people who are simulated stranded out in the middle of Tokyo to their homes in the Kanagawa Prefecture.
Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief is a critical aspect of the Navy's Maritime Strategy and an important part of the close partnership between the United States and Japan.
“This drill is important and affects us in many ways,” said Shaw. “Primarily we are neighbors we live here, our families our here, we want to make sure everyone is ready to go if disaster happens.”
In addition to Lassen’s participation, the Runnymede class large landing craft USAV Fort McHenry (LCU 2020) also took part in transporting evacuees from the area. The crew of 15 Soldiers flew in to Japan from various commands and prepared the vessel for the mission of transporting evacuees all within 24 hours.
“The Army’s involvement is a joint involvement with the Navy and the government of Japan in order to demonstrate our ability to evacuate stranded commuters from a certain area and take them to another area,” said Army Chief Warrant Officer Anthony Muchella. “The U.S.’ involvement is important because the people of Japan may need some unique assets that the Department of Defense can provide to assist them in event of a natural disaster.”
LCU's prove to viable option for this type of drill since the vessel is capable of a wide range of disaster support. The LCU has a lift capability of 150 tons that can be used for supplies, people or equipment and be easily transported from ship to shore.
The Lassen transported the 45 TMG employees participating as evacuees, to Command Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) as well as hosting national media. During the transit from Tokyo Bay to Yokosuka, the Lassen crew provided ship tours to the visitors and explained the importance of the drill as well as the capabilities of the ship.
“This exercise will provide an opportunity for the Tokyo metropolitan Government to better understand the abilities of the USS Lassen and the U.S. Navy can provide in the event of a disaster,” said Cmdr. Chip Wrye commanding officer of Lassen. “Our countries continue to share a strong relationship and this exercise provides another great opportunity to work together.”
Disaster relief and humanitarian assistance drills such as this allow the U.S. forces and JSDF to be ready to react as needed throughout the region.
Lassen is assigned to Destroyer Squadron Fifteen (DESRON 15) and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka Japan.