USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- Demonstrating the opportunities for increasing the interoperability of the U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), master chiefs from both nations gathered aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) Dec. 8 for an educational exchange during exercise Keen Sword 2011.
"We are conducting this visit to learn from each other's operations and procedures in order to improve our Sailors and commands," said JMSDF Fleet Escort Force Master Chief Koji Himori. "The United States and JMSDF both have their good and bad points. It is important that we work together to learn from each other's positive aspects and eliminate the negative so that we may both become better."
Escort Flotilla 2 Command Master Chief Tanaka Naosuke of the JMSDF also attended the meeting aboard George Washington, which was hosted by George Washington Command Master Chief Marty King.
"We need to understand how other forces operate. Continuing this international coalition development will only help us build a more cohesive unit that works together as one team," said King.
The visiting master chiefs plan to spend a total of 10 days aboard George Washington observing and participating in several evolutions including a refueling-at-sea with USS John S. McCain (DD 56), general quarters drills and flight deck operations. The master chiefs also had the opportunity to watch an anti-submarine warfare training exercise.
"I would like to see the United States take strengths from the Japanese, and the Japanese take strengths from the United States. This way we can become stronger together," said Naosuke.
The exchange program was limited to the command master chief level but all agree it should be expanded to petty officers and seamen for the next Keen Sword exercise.
"Any time Sailors have the opportunity to work together with Sailors from another nation, we should take advantage of the opportunity," said King.
"We learned a great deal during our visit. Next time I hope that U.S. and Japanese Sailors can both spend time on each others ships so that we can learn more and continue to build a strong team," said Himori.
Keen Sword is the world's largest joint bilateral exercise in 2010 and is designed to evaluate the interoperability of the U.S. military and Japan Self-Defense Force. The exercise brings together 34,000 Japanese troops and 10,000 U.S. service members, plus a combined 430 aircraft and 60 ships for missile-defense and other air, land and sea operations. Service members will practice responding to a wide range of situations, including the defense of the region and reacting to a simulated contingency situation affecting Japan, within a realistic training environment.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.