Maritime forces from the US and South Korean navies have commenced the annual bilateral Exercise Clear Horizon off the south of the Korean peninsula.
The US assets joining the ROK Navy include 330 personnel from Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7, mine countermeasure vessels USS Warrior (MCM 10) and USS Chief (MCM 14), as well as MH-53E helicopters from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 (HM-14) and teams from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit 5.
As part of the five-day exercise, vessels and expeditionary units from both navies will rehearse clearing routes for shipping and perform training surveys for clearing operational regions.
US Naval Forces Korea Commander rear admiral Lisa Franchetti said: "We achieve mine countermeasure proficiency by rehearsing scenarios at sea and developing key mine warfare skill sets.
"Clear Horizon provides both navies an important opportunity to improve coordination and increase readiness in critical mine countermeasure capabilities."
In addition, mine clearing helicopters will allow the involved personnel to improve mine countermeasure operations from the air.
Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 commander captain Mike Dowling said: "Clear Horizon is a great training opportunity for our forward-deployed mine countermeasures assets across the entire mine warfare spectrum.
"This combined exercise is vitally important for maintaining interoperability with the ROK Navy."
Clear Horizon, which is one of 20 annual bilateral training exercises executed every year between both navies, is aimed at bolstering the coalition and maintaining stability and peace around the Korean peninsula and across north-east Asia.
Republic of Korea Fleet commander Kim, Boem Woo said: "This year’s Clear Horizon exercise demonstrates the strong partnership and cooperation between the ROK and US navies.
"We are bringing together valuable expertise and knowledge from both navies and applying these skills in a realistic training environment."
The US 7th Fleet maintains a routine presence in the Indo-Asia Pacific region to help promote maritime security and develop partnerships with friends and allies.
Image: The US Navy’s Avenger-class mine countermeasure ship USS Chief (MCM 14). Photo: courtesy of the US Navy, photo by mass communication specialist seaman apprentice Patrick Dionne.