US and Japanese naval forces have commenced a series of complex and integrated mine countermeasures (MCM) operations as part of the annual 2JA Mine Countermeasure Exercise (2JA MCMEX) in Japan.
This year’s exercise brings together the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and US Navy surface and air mine countermeasures assets, as well as explosive ordnance disposal personnel.
2JA MCMEX is being conducted in order to boost interoperability and enhance the participating forces' proficiencies in mine countermeasures operations.
Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 commodore captain Jim Miller said: “2JA is an incredible opportunity for our forces and our staff to conduct complex mine countermeasures operations with our much valued ally and friends, the JMSDF.”
The exercise saw the US Navy’s P-3C Orion aircraft and JMSDF’s EP-3 Elint aircraft drop mine shapes in the exercise area to lend an element of realism to the training procedure.
USS Pioneer (MCM 9) has been forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan, and has carried out unit-level tests of the vessel's MCM equipment and other communication checks to ensure it is interoperable with other participating JMSDF surface MCM assets.
Additionally, personnel from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 have performed several dives with JMSDF members to enhance proficiencies in search techniques for sea-based mines.
Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 Det 2A has been conducting activities in Misawa, Japan, including deck landing qualifications in collaboration with JS Bungo (MST 464).
2JA MCMEX is slated to conclude in a combined phase, which will see the US and JMSDF forces coordinate and communicate to ensure a route in one of the designated exercise areas has been successfully cleared of mines.
Image: Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 personnel prepare for a diving exercise with members of the JMSDF and the Republic of Korea’s Navy Underwater Demolition Team in Japan during 2JA MCMEX. Photo: courtesy of the US Navy / MC2 Alfred A. Coffield via Flickr.com.