Canadian ships to join US-Japanese drill Keen Sword for first time ever

A B-1 bomber leads a formation with fighters in front of US Navy and JMSDF ships during the 2016 edition of exercise Keen Sword. Photo: US Navy

Two Royal Canadian Navy ships will be joining US and Japan Self Defense Force units for exercise Keen Sword which is scheduled to start on October 29.

According to the US Navy, this will be the first time Canadian Navy ships are taking part in the maritime portion of the exercise.

While the US Navy did not specify which RCN ships will take part, it is likely that Halifax-class frigate HMCS Calgary (which started her five-month Asia-Pacific deployment in July this year) will be one of the ships to join the amphibious exercise.

The other Canadian ship will likely be tanker M/V Asterix which headed for Australia and exercise Kakadu 2018 after completing its inaugural RIMPAC.

Keen Sword is a biennial exercise designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability of US forces and the JSDF.

This year’s iteration will feature the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s (JGSDF) Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), which will conduct amphibious landings in the vicinity of Guam and Tinian. U.S. Marines from III Marine Expeditionary Force will work side-by-side with the ARDB and serve as mentors and evaluators.

It is worth noting that both Japanese helicopter carriers are currently underway and could potentially take part in the exercise which is regularly joined by US Navy aircraft carriers. The JS Kaga is conducting ASW drills with the Indian Navy while the JS Izumo trained with carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Philippine Sea last week.

Approximately 10,000 US service members will conduct training with their JSDF counterparts from military installations throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa, Guam, Tinian, and their surrounding waters.

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