PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) hosted key regional military leaders during George Washington Carrier Strike Group's participation in Annual Exercise (AnnualEx) 13, Nov 27-28.
Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Vice Adm. Yasuhi Matsushita, commander in chief, Japan Self-Defense Fleet, visited the ship to discuss AnnualEx 13 and to foster relations between two key regional allies.
"It's pleasure to have you aboard," said Capt. Greg Fenton, George Washington's commanding officer, as he welcomed them onto the ship. "This is a wonderful opportunity for you to debrief on AnnualEx as well as any events that may come within the exercise."
AnnualEx 13 is designed to increase the defensive readiness and interoperability of Japanese and U.S. Naval forces through training in air and sea operations.
"This exercise was planned more than a year ago," said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet. "It's important for the U.S. Navy and JMSDF to train to continue to evolve, upgrade and compare tactics to increase our interoperability."
The operation is shaped to improve tactics, maritime defense and help communication between both forces.
"The JMSDF can completely integrate with the U.S. 7th fleet," said Thomas. "We are so close, we spend so much time with each other that across the board, this relation ship that we have allows us to completely interoperate in anti-surface, anti-submarine and strike warfare."
The exercise is aimed to train in coordination procedures and heighten interoperability needed to effectively defend or respond to a crisis in Japan or the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
"AnnualEx is the high-end war-fighting exercise," said Thomas. "The JMSDF is very capable across the spectrum of warfare. The common defense of Japan is critical, but we have obligations throughout the region. We can mix and match with each others forces."
The U.S. Navy is committed to enhance and protect the Indo-Asia-Pacific region through operational proficiency, readiness, and interoperability to strengthen our alliances and partnerships.
"It's great to be back aboard the ship," said Matsushita. "I'm very thankful for [George Washington's] participation in AnnualEx. This is a great opportunity for us to train and practice our capabilities. We look forward to continuing our long-standing alliance."
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.