The US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) have commenced Mine Warfare Exercise (MIWEX) 2JA 2020 off the coast of northern Japan.

MIWEX 2JA marks the 39th mine sweeping exercise between Japan and the US.

It is being conducted as part of an annual series of exercises between navies of the allied nations.

The exercise will see JMSDF’s Mine Division 3 work with the US Navy’s Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCS) 7.

During the training, units will learn how to communicate and operate in a collective environment and increase proficiency in mine hunting operations.

Furthermore, the participating units will practice unit-level mine warfare tactics, including sweeping, hunting, and mine detection.

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Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7 commander rear admiral Fred Kacher said: “Working with our JMSDF allies to keep our mine countermeasure skills sharp is absolutely essential.

“Maintaining open sea lanes for both military and civilian shipping in this important region is paramount for the free flow of trade and this exercise provides the experience our teams need to keep waterways safe for mariners throughout the Indo-Pacific.”

JMSDF assets taking part in the drill are Uraga-class JS Uraga (MST-463) and JS Bungo (MST-464)‎ mine sweeper tenders, JS Awaji (MSC-304), JS Hirado (MSC-305), and more. Aircraft include P1 and P-3C.

The US units that are participating in the exercise include USS Patriot (MCM 7), USS Pioneer (MCM 9), and personnel from MCS 7.

Deployed to Sasebo, Japan, COMCMRON 7 comprises of Patriot, Pioneer, USS Warrior (MCM 10), USS Chief (MCM 14) and Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, Detachment 2A.