USS Patriot sailors take part in Bilateral Sports day in northern Japan 
By Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Sanford 
OMINATO NAVAL BASE, Japan – U.S. and Japanese sailors took a break from their bilateral mine exercise off the coast of northern Japan to enjoy a day of softball and barbecuing on board Ominato Naval Base, July 24, 2013.

USS Patriot (MCM 7), an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship, along with similar minesweeping ships from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), took time out from the exercise to participate in a bilateral sports day hosted by JMSDF’s Commander, Minesweeper Division 1.

The sports day gave the U.S. and Japanese service members a much-needed break from the exercise, and provided an opportunity for them to interact with mine countermeasure sailors from other countries.

“An opportunity like today is great because it allows us to get to know the crew members of the ships we’ve been operating alongside,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Hopkins, USS Patriot commanding officer, and a native of Fallbrook, Calif. “While in port, we’ve already conducted cross-decking tours between the U.S. and Japanese ships so that we all can build familiarization with each other.”

“On the water, we operate together, but we do it from afar,” said Engineman 1st Class Michael Chamberlin, originally from Pelham, N.H. “However, when we get an opportunity like this, we get to understand each other on a more personal level. Sure we speak different languages, but in the end, we all perform the same job, so relating and interacting with each other is not as difficult as you may think.”

Indeed both U.S. and Japanese service members alike thought the day was beneficial.

“This exercise is a good opportunity for us to learn mine warfare operations from each other and I think we will continue to have a great future together,” said JMSDF Lt. Toshinyuki Inakazu, JS Miyajima (MSC 690) commanding officer. “My crew especially liked spending time with the U.S. Navy and enjoyed themselves today.”

Soon, the ships will depart Ominato Naval Base and resume the exercise, however, Ensign Andrew Grimm says the time spent together has been very advantageous.

“This has been a great opportunity to practice and learn from each other,” said the native of Blythe, Calif., who serves as the Patriot’s communications officer. “The JMSDF is a very talented force and they are obviously very good at what they do, whether it’s mine hunting, sweeping, or softball.”



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