India joins annual US-Japanese mine countermeasure drill 2JA

US Navy sailors aboard mine countermeasures ship USS Chief (MCM 14) lower a mine neutralization vehicle into the water during 2JA 2017. Photo: US Navy

US Navy and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) mine countermeasure (MCM) units were joined by their Indian Navy counterparts for the start of the 2JA mine countermeasure exercise 2018 near Ominato, Japan, on July 18.

2JA is an annual exercise that, in addition to the US Navy and JMSDF, this year includes explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) personnel from India.

“This exercise allows us to flex our mine countermeasure muscles and improve interoperability with our JMSDF and Indian Navy teammates,” said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet.

“The mine countermeasure mission is hugely important to both military and civilian shipping from all nations in the Indo-Pacific region and keeping waterways clear of mine threats is fundamental to national security and the free flow of trade.”

During the exercise, participating units will practice unit-level mine countermeasures tactics to include using sonar equipment to detect mines. Explosive ordnance disposal unit personnel will conduct dive operations in support of mine countermeasures efforts.

The exercise will culminate in a combined phase in which US Navy and JMSDF will coordinate and communicate to ensure a safe route through simulated mines in one of the designated exercise areas.

US Navy units participating include USS Chief (MCM 14), Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, and staff from Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 7.

Participating JMSDF assets include minesweeper tender JS Uraga (MST 463), two mine-sweep ocean ships JS Awaji (MSO 304) and JS Hirado (MSO 305); fifteen mine-sweep coastal ships; Helicopter Mine Warfare Squadron 111; four P-3C patrol aircraft and one P-1 patrol aircraft.

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