Australian minehunters joining US-Japanese mine warfare exercise

Australian minehunters are joining 3JA after concluding participation in a similar mine warfare drill hosted by South Korea last month. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

Mine countermeasure ships from the navies of the US and Japan will be joined by their Australian counterparts for a mine warfare exercise off the coast of southern Japan which kicks off November 17.

The drill is called Mine Warfare Exercise 3JA 2018 and is part of an annual exercise series organized by the US Navy and JMSDF.

This is the first time Australian units are joining.

“Our continued work with the JSMDF combined with this year’s addition of our Australian allies gives exercise 3JA a much more vibrant impact and allows for greater richness of training,” said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander, Amphibious Force, US 7th Fleet.

During the exercise, participating units will practice unit-level mine warfare tactics to include sweeping, hunting, and mine detection.

The exercise will culminate in a combined phase in which US and JMSDF will coordinate and communicate to clear a route for ships through a simulated minefield in one of the designated exercise areas.

JMSDF units include Mine Warfare Force (MWF), Commander, Mine Division (CMD) 1, CMD42, CMD43, Uraga-class mine sweeper tenders JS Bungo (MST-464) and JS Uraga (MST-463)‎, one mine-sweep ocean (MSO) ship, five mine-sweep coastal (MSC) ships, and three mine countermeasures helicopters (MCH) 101.

RAN units include HMAS Huon (M 82) and HMAS Gascoyne (M 85).

US units participating include USS Chief (MCM 14), Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit Five Platoon 501, Helicopter Mine Countermeasure Squadron (HM) 14 and the staff from Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7.

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