US Navy ships from the Wasp expeditionary strike group met up with Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) amphibious transport dock JS Shimokita (LST 4002) in the East China Sea on April 9 for bilateral maneuvers.
The US Navy has shared photos of the navigational maneuvers which were held to “demonstrate commitment to the U.S.-Japan alliance and security of the region”.
“Our two navies sailing side-by-side like this signifies the strong relationship we have with the Kaijo Jieitai as allies,” said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, Expeditionary Strike Group 7. “We work together on a continuum of activities and are committed to expanding combined amphibious capability.”
As an example of the continued commitment to working together, LCACs from Naval Beach Unit 7 had embarked on JS Ōsumi (LST 4001) in September 2017 to participate in the annual emergency drill Big Rescue.
This was the first time that Wasp had operated with the Japan Self Defense Force since arriving to Sasebo, Japan in January to replace USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as the flagship for Amphibious Force 7th Fleet.
“For the JMSDF, this is the first time to conduct exercise with Wasp ESG and 31st MEU. I am sure this exercise is a valuable experience for JMSDF,” said Rear Adm. Tsutomu Shirane, commander, Mine Warfare Force. “We welcome the deployment of USS Wasp in this region, and I hope we continue to work together with Wasp.”
The Wasp ESG is deployed in the region in order to provide rapid-response capability and advance the Up-Gunned ESG concept which combines a three-ship amphibious ready group (ARG) with a three ship guided-missile destroyer surface action group (SAG).
This ESG is envisioned as a bridge between the 10 carrier strike groups the US Navy currently has and the 15 it would like/need to operate.