U.S. Navy Avenger-class mine countermeasure ship USS Pioneer (MCM 9)
U.S. Navy Avenger-class mine countermeasure ship USS Pioneer (MCM 9)

US Navy and JMSDF Flex Mine Warfare Capabilities During Exercise Mine Warfare Exercise 2JA

Mine warfare forces from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) started Mine Warfare Exercise (MIWEX) 2JA 2020 off the coast of northern Japan, July 20. MIWEX 2JA is part of an annual series of exercises between the allied navies designed to increase proficiency in mine countermeasure operations. During the exercise, participating units will practice unit-level mine warfare tactics to include sweeping, hunting, and mine detection. The JMSDF Commander, Mine Warfare Force, Rear Adm. Fukuda Tatsuya, pointed out that that this is the 39th Japan – U.S. bilateral mine sweeping exercise and discussed the challenges that the allies had to overcome in 2020.

“Working with our JMSDF allies to keep our mine countermeasure skills sharp is absolutely essential,” said Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 7. “Maintaining open sea lanes for both military and civilian shipping in this important region is paramount for the free flow of trade and this exercise provides the experience our teams need to keep waterways safe for mariners throughout the Indo-Pacific.”

“The JMSDF have an excellent mine warfare force,” said Capt. Derek Brady, Commodore of Mine Countermeasures Squadron Seven. “2JA affords us the opportunity to work closely with them, learn from each other, and strengthen our partnership in defense of Japan and the region.”

Mineman 3rd Class Arturo Rivera and Mineman 3rd Class Peter Birnstihl run a simulated mine neutralization vehicle (MNV) mission using the AN/SSQ-94V4 trainer in Combat Information Center (CIC) aboard mine countermeasures ship USS Pioneer (MCM 9). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Caleb Strong)

JMSDF Mine Division 3 and U.S. Navy Commander, Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 will work together throughout the exercise to direct mine hunting tasks for U.S. and JMSDF ships. This training will allow all the units to practice communicating and operating in a combined environment and learn to maximize their cumulative mine hunting capability. COMCMRON 7 is forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan, and consists of Patriot, Pioneer, USS Warrior (MCM 10), and USS Chief (MCM 14) in Sasebo and Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, Detachment 2A based in Pohang, South Korea.

Participating JMSDF units will include Uraga class mine sweeper tenders JS Uraga (MST-463) and JS Bungo (MST-464)‎, mine sweepers JS Awaji (MSC-304), JS Hirado (MSC-305), JS Miyajima (MSC-690), JS Enoshima (MSC-604), JS Chichijima (MSC-605), JS Naoshima (MSC-684), JS Ukushima (MSC-686), JS Sugashima (MSC-681) JS Aoshima (MSC-689), JS Takashima (MSC-603), JS Yakushima (MSC-602), JS Shishijima (MSC-691) and JS Kuroshima (MSC-692) and P1 and P-3C aircraft. U.S. units participating include USS Patriot (MCM 7), USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and the staff from Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7.

Avenger-class mine countermeasure ship USS Pioneer (MCM 9) conducts a mine warfare training exercise. Pioneer, part of Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7, is operating in the 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response platform for contingency operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Irving Garcia)