Japan, US conclude mine countermeasure drill 2JA 2016

Members of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force prepare to receive an MH-53E Sea Dragon aboard the JS Uraga, while taking part in Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2JA in Mutsu Bay, Japan, July 22, 2016. Photo: US Navy

U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) mine countermeasures units completed the mine countermeasures exercise (MCMEX) 2JA 2016 that took place July 15 to 30, near the region surrounding Misawa Air Base, Japan.

MCMEX is an annual bilateral exercise held between the U.S. and Japan to strengthen interoperability and increase proficiencies in mine countermeasures operations.

U.S. Navy Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, Detachment 2A, and the JMSDF Mine Sweeper Division One were among the participating units.

A range of U.S. units participated including mine countermeasures ship USS Patriot (MCM 7), Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, and staff from Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 7.

“We achieved a lot in terms of interoperability this 2JA,” said Capt. Jim Miller, commodore, Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 7. “From putting Japanese explosive ordnance personnel on our helicopters as part of helicopter casting to passing Q-route data, we were truly able to work hand in hand to detect and neutralize potential mines.”

The participants executed a broad range of mine neutralization activities. Unit-level mine countermeasures tactics included sweeping, hunting, helicopter casting, and neutralization using remotely operated vehicles, sonar, and sweep gear.

EOD personnel conducted dive operations from JMSDF ships, U.S. ships and MH-60S helicopters in support of mine countermeasures efforts.

The exercise culminated in a combined phase during which U.S. and JMSDF personnel coordinated and communicated to clear a route for ships through a simulated minefield in one of the designated exercise areas.

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