EAST CHINA SEA – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) joined the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Hatakaze-class destroyer JS Shimakaze (DDG 172) and Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) to participate in the military exercise Pacific Bond 2012.
Pacific Bond is a multilateral exercise developed to build on prior exercises, improving coordination and interoperability between the participating nations.
This year’s exercise focused on anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction operations and maritime operations.
“The combined defense force organized and executed a perfect exercise. This event is another example of our countries’ interoperability at sea and commitment to regional maritime security,” said Cmdr. Thomas “T.J” Dixon, commanding officer of McCampbell. “It has been an honor to represent the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Bond trilateral exercise, and to work with the Royal Navy of Australia and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force.”
The exercise began with tactical maneuvering operations which allowed the participating ships to practice coordinated movements while in formation at close interval. This exercise improved the ships’ ability to communicate with each other and execute complex maneuvers.
In addition, McCampbell conducted a Replenishment-at-Sea (RAS) with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Towada-class fast-combat support ship JS Hamana (AOE 424) to practice and improve both countries capability to conduct underway refueling operations with foreign navies.
During the RAS, the Warlords of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HSL) 51 conducted flight operations in their SH-60B Twin-engine helicopter and landed on the flight decks of the Shimakaze and Ballarat.
“Their landing procedures were very similar to our own, but they used slightly different hand signals than we were used to. Overall, we worked really well together,” said Lt.j.g. James Walsh, assigned to the HSL Warlords Squadron. “This was really great, because in the case of an emergency, there’s a chance we would have to divert and head to an allied ship. Having the experience of landing on different ships and platforms is great training.”
A key goal of Pacific Bond is to enhance compatibility of each of the participating maritime forces in support of improving maritime security.
“During the exercise we were able to land on both the Shimakaze and the Ballarat. These exercises not only help us maintain ties with our allies by continuing to foster good will between our militaries, it also ensures we can operate together,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew A. Cole, aviation department head aboard McCampbell. “Learning what our counterparts are doing and thinking during these procedures is very important.”
The multilateral training that exercise Pacific Bond provides is critical in times of crisis and in response to regional contingencies.
At the completion of the exercise, the crew of the Shimakaze invited the commanding officers of the allied ships for lunch while in port at Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa. The commanding officers ate together and discussed what each had learned from training together.
“We are here not only building valuable partners through exercise, but building friends through our work and visits together,” said Dixon.
McCampbell is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and is underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.