SEA OF HYUGA – USS Chief (MCM 14) and members of Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 7 staff joined Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) MCM units to participate in the final phases of the bilateral mine countermeasures exercise 3JA held Nov. 24-28.
MCMEX 3JA is part of an annual series of bilateral exercises held between the U.S. and Japan to increase proficiency and interoperability in mine countermeasure operations. For the first time, 3JA will incorporate a U.S. mine sweeper and a U.S. mine warfare staff to increase the complexity and combined nature of the culminating phase of the exercise.
JMSDF forces and the U.S. Navy’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 began the initial phases of the exercise on Nov. 20. EODMU 5 personnel, embarked on the mine sweeper tender JS Uraga (MST-463), have been focusing on limpet mine neutralization, improvised explosive device (IED) tactics training, and helicopter casting with JMSDF counterparts.
"With each joint exercise, we enhance our ability to support each other and operate together as a unified force that is prepared when and where we are needed,” said Capt. James Miller, Commodore, MCMRON 7. "We are grateful for every opportunity to operate with the JMSDF and strengthen our combined mine countermeasure capabilities.”
USS Chief (MCM 14) sailed from its forward-deployed berth in Sasebo to participate in the exercise. The staff of MCMRON 7, headquartered in Sasebo, embarked on the mine sweeper tender JS Bungo.
Throughout the exercise, forces have practiced unit-level mine countermeasures tactics to include sweeping, hunting, and mine detection.
The exercise culminated in a combined phase in which U.S. and JMSDF coordinated and communicated to clear a route for ships through a simulated minefield in one of the designated exercise areas.
MCMRON 7 and Chief are part of Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force, headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa.