TENSIONS are mounting after the US Navy and the Japanese military conducted bilateral exercises while sailing together in the South China Sea.
The USS Gabrielle Giffords and Japan’s JS Kashim and Shimayuki met at sea on June 23 where they reportedly practiced and enhanced bilateral interoperability between the two navies. In April Gabrielle Giffords sailed with JS Teruzuki in the Andaman Sea.
Rear Admiral Fred Kacher, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 7, said: “The opportunity to operate with our friends and allies at sea is incredibly important for our combined readiness and partnership.
“Executing complex maritime skills with our Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) allies allows both of our teams to build on our interoperability and readiness as we maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Some of the training exercises included division tactics to practice precision manoeuvring and a photo exercise.
Commander Dustin T Lonero, commanding officer of Gabrielle Giffords Blue Crew, added: “This exercise is particularly valuable since we are operating with JMSDF trainees; they are the future maritime professionals that our sailors will eventually operate with for years to come.