USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), flagship for Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, teamed up with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force March 23 to conduct a passing exercise (PASSEX) in the Western Pacific ocean.
During the exercise, officers from both sides participated in an officer exchange program between ships in order to get a better understanding of how each navy operates.
"The face-to-face interaction helps with the communication barrier," said Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Mills, from Destroyer Group (DESRON) 9. "It allows us to be on the same page with the goals of this exercise."
Mills, who was stationed in Japan for two years, was honored to be able to go aboard JDS Kirishima (DD 174), a Kongo-class destroyer similar to U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.
"I've always been extremely interested in how different navies are put together and operate," said Mills. "They (the Japanese) have managed to come up with ways to operate similar to ours, based from a different way of thinking."
Not only did she see a ship from a different country, she also witnessed how the Japanese conduct themselves on a regular basis.
"The Japanese are extremely efficient and outstanding mariners," Mills said. "They run their ship with constant professionalism in everything they do."
While Mills and four other members of Abraham Lincoln's crew were touring Japanese ships, Lincoln hosted four distinguished visitors from different Japanese ships for the three-day exchange.
One visitor to Abraham Lincoln said this exchange, like the exercise, allows the two nations to demonstrate their ability to work together in a variety of missions.
"This operation helps build the United States and Japanese friendship," said Lt. Cmdr. Tadahiro Fujiyama, from JDS Takanami (DD 110). "It also helps us understand each other better."
Cooperation between the U.S. Navy and the navies of allied countries is very important in today's ever-changing political climate.
"The Japanese are a major ally," said Mills. "We need to form a world wide force, and doing exercises like this helps us understand each other's capabilities. This helps us become stronger against any opposing forces."
While this PASSEX helped build American and Japanese relations, future exercises will help build stronger ties with other allied nations, allowing the formation of strong coalition strike groups.
"Every time we do [PASSEX]," said Mills, "it helps us understand how our allies do business. [Exercises] help build our friendship and communications. They are an excellent way for us to learn more and more from friends and allies."
CSG 9 includes Abraham Lincoln, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, DESRON 9, the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), and the guided-missile destroyers USS Russell (DDG 59) and USS Shoup (DDG 86).
The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is on a routine deployment to conduct maritime security operations and to train with coalition partners to improve their ability to operate with naval forces from many nations.
During the strike group's previous deployment, Abraham Lincoln and CVW-2 brought much-needed aid to the tssunami-ravaged area of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, during Operation Unified Assistance in early 2005.
For related news, visit the USS Abraham Lincoln Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.