KURE, Japan (NNS) -- Two forward deployed U.S Navy mine countermeasures ships with embarked personnel and 19 Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) assets began a joint and combined MINEX-EODEX (Mine Exercise/Explosive Ordnance Disposal Exercise) 2006 off the coast of Kure, Japan, Feb. 15.
The Sasebo, Japan-based USS Guardian (MCM 5) and USS Patriot (MCM 7) will participate in a two-week exercise with JDS Uraga (MST 463), JDS Bungo (MST 464) and 17 JMSDF mine countermeasures ships. Both navies will conduct a round-the-clock mine hunting exercise, exchanging both skills and cultures that will enhance the dynamic interoperability between the U.S. and Japanese mine hunters in the future.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 Detachment 51, also forward deployed to Sasebo, and EODMU Detachment 53, based in Guam, will coordinate with the Japanese Mine Force Headquarters EOD Team to neutralize simulated mines detected by Patriot, Guardian, and Bungo. Detachment 53 will be on Patriot while Detachment 51 will be aboard Bungo.
"Being forward deployed to Sasebo, we enjoy a unique partnership with the JMSDF countermeasures ships, one which is apparent both at sea and at shore," said Cmdr. Kurt E. Hedberg, commodore, Mine Countermeasures Division (MCMDIV) 11, whose staff will be embarked upon Bungo and provide direct support to Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 1 during the exercise. "Exercises like MINEX-EODEX build relationships and demonstrate the combat readiness of our combined forces."
Patriot and Guardian will conduct mine hunting techniques using a special mine-hunting sonar, AN/SQQ 32, and deploy a mine neutralization vehicle (MNV) to locate and classify the mines in the simulated minefield. Once mines are detected, the EOD teams will deploy to neutralize the mines.
In addition to actual mine countermeasures operations, the ships will work together to showcase support capabilities during humanitarian assistance operations. Bungo will demonstrate the ability to provide logistical support of fuel and supplies to the U.S. countermeasures ships. Patriot and Guardian will demonstrate operational assistance by guiding Bungo through a simulated minefield.
"This exercise not only builds professional relationships but also improves our ability to provide direct support and assistance when we operate together," said Lt. Cmdr. Taijirou Omata, JMSDF maritime staff office.
Relationship building will be enhanced with several sets of personnel exchanges. Guardian and Patriot will send one enlisted and one officer over to a JMSDF mine countermeasures ship twice throughout the exercise. The U.S. mine sweep ships will both receive two JMSDF enlisted and officers.
The commanding officers of Patriot and Guardian are looking forward to welcoming both the EOD personnel and JMSDF personnel aboard and executing the training that has been ongoing for nearly a year.
"MINEX-EODEX will showcase not only the training but the relationships that we have built up with the JMSDF during the last year," said Lt. Cmdr. Richard Brawley, Patriot's commanding officer. "I am confident that the U.S. Navy and the JMSDF ships will perform at their highest level."
Patriot and Guardian are mine countermeasures ships forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan. Patriot and Guardian serve under Task Force 76, which serves as the U.S. 7th Fleet's Mine Countermeasures arm in forward-deployed operations.
For related news, visit the Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/ctf76/.