Japan joins US, Philippines for maritime exercise Sama Sama

Illustration; Philippine Navy ships underway during Sama Sama 2018. Photo: US Navy

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has joined the US and Philippine Navy for Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama, an exercise that started with an opening ceremony in Puerto Princesa on October 14.

This is the third iteration of MTA Sama Sama and the first time JMSDF will participate, alongside US and Philippine naval counterparts.

The exercise will consist of both shore-based and at-sea activities designed to allow participating navies to undertake complex maritime training utilizing diverse naval platforms and operating areas.

US Navy Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander of Logistics Group Western Pacific, who oversees security cooperation for the US Navy in Southeast Asia, said that Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama demonstrated an evolution toward multilateral training and networked security.

“We are strongest when we sail together,” said Tynch. “MTA Sama Sama gives us a great chance to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends, partners, and allies, the Philippine Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. We train together, so that together we can face threats to maritime security.”

Shore phase events will include a series of subject matter expert exchanges on a range of naval capabilities, including maritime domain awareness, force protection, medical care, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, explosive ordnance disposal, dive and salvage operations, engineering, aviation, and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations.

The at-sea phase will include VBSS drills, division tactics, a search and rescue exercise, helicopter deck landing qualifications, anti-air and surface warfare tracking, and vessel of interest tracking.

Participating US Navy assets include the littoral combat ship USS Montgomery (LCS 8), the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3), the Safeguard-class salvage ship USNS Salvor (ARS 52), the Legend-class cutter USCG Stratton (VMSL 752) and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft.

Montgomery, an Independence-variant littoral combat ship on a rotational deployment to the Indo-Pacific area of operations, is the first LCS to deploy to Singapore since late 2017.

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