US, Japan warships operate together in South China Sea

United States Navy Ronald Reagan Strike Group and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF)’s Escort Flotilla 4 Battle Group conducted a bilateral training while underway in the South China Sea on August 31.

US Navy photo

This bilateral training was held before the Japanese flotilla’s arrival in Subic for a goodwill visit that will last until September 5.

The Japanese flotilla is composed of helicopter carrier Japanese Ship (JS) Kaga (DDH-184) with five embarked SH-60K patrol helicopters, an Akizuki-class destroyer JS Suzutsuki (DD-117), and a Murasame-class destroyer JS Inazuma (DD-105) headeed by Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda.

The US Navy said during the training, units from the two maritime forces sailed in formation, participated in replenishment-at-sea training, exchanged naval liaison officers and practiced maneuvering procedures.

“The teamwork and professionalism I have experienced by both CTF 70 and JMSDF sailors during this training operation has truly demonstrated how seamlessly we can integrate with our Japanese allies,” said US Navy Rear Admiral Karl O. Thomas, Commander, Task Force 70. “Training with Escort Flotilla 4 was a fantastic opportunity to bring together our strike group with the JMSDF battle group and further the interoperability we have been building for years between our forces.”

Ronald Reagan Strike Group units that participated in the bilateral training were the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69). Escort Flotilla 4 Battle Group units included the helicopter destroyer JS Kaga (DDH 184), the Murasame-class destroyer JS Inazuma (DD 105) and the Akizuki-class destroyer JS Suzutsuki (DD 117).

The Japanese flotilla is in a deployment “is intended to improve operational capability and promote interoperability and cooperation with partner navies, while contributing to peace and stability in the indo-Pacific region.”