PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) — The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) hosted commander, Escort Flotilla Two, June 13, while participating in exercise Malabar 2018.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Rear Adm. Hideyuki Oban arrived aboard Benfold via a JMSDF SH-60K Sea Hawk helicopter and spent the afternoon meeting with leadership and touring the ship.
“It was my pleasure having Rear Adm. Oban onboard as we participate in exercise Malabar,” said Cmdr. Leroy Mitchell, Benfold’s commanding officer. “This trilateral exercise is another opportunity to strengthen our relationships while promoting maritime peace and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”
Benfold is currently participating in Malabar, which is the 22nd rendition of the exercise and is designed to advance military-to-military coordination in a multinational environment between the U.S., Japan and Indian maritime forces. This year is the first time the exercise has been hosted off the coast of Guam.
During the visit, Oban and Mitchell also held a video teleconference with other participating Malabar members to discuss the events planned for the duration of the exercise.
Lt. Lloyd Mustin, Benfold’s operations officer, said that Oban’s visit and the remainder of Malabar foster multilateral relationships due to the experience gained while learning how foreign navies and large strike groups operate as a whole.
“It was really great to meet him,” Mustin said. “We were able to see how the Japanese think and he really stressed how important communications are in these bilateral and trilateral events. That was one of my big takeaways; that being able to communicate is being able to win the fight.”
Benfold is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.