An officer from HMS Illustrious has completed a short exchange visit with the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force.
Acting Lieutenant Commander Joseph Currin , from Southampton, represented the Royal Navy on board the Japanese Ship Ise, a Hyuga-Class Helicopter Destroyer during disaster relief operations in the Philippines.
Joe was embedded with the Japanese Joint Task Force staff as an observer and to facilitate essential UK-Japanese liaison, he said,
“Visiting a Japanese ship off the coast of the Philippines was an unexpected surprise.”
“The Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force could not have been more accommodating and they were genuinely interested in HMS Illustrious and the Royal Navy as whole.”
This was the first time that the Japanese Ministry of Defence has deployed a Joint Task Force to conduct a humanitarian disaster relief operation.
Using maritime and ground force helicopters, the JTF distributed aid from Tacloban to more remote locations.
They were also able to provide medical support to some of the hospitals in the region, preventing the spread of diseases such as Polio and Measles.
“The Royal Navy hasn’t had many opportunities to work with the JMSDF in live operations. This made my exchange visit all the more interesting.
“I was surprised to see how much we had in common especially in terms of structure and values.”
JS Ise was deployed to the east of Leyte Island in the eastern Philippines as part of the multi-national response to Typhoon Haiyan.
HMS Illustrious has now completed her involvement in Operation Patwin, the UK humanitarian aid mission to the Philippines, and is expected to return home to the UK in mid-January.
Press Release, December 19, 2013; Image: Royal Navy