110311-N-5185B-001 EAST CHINA SEA (March 11, 2011) - The mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian (MCM 5) conducts an underway replenishment with the dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9). (U.S. Navy photo)

EAST CHINA SEA (NNS) - - The mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian (MCM 5) started their patrol of the 7th Fleet area of responsibility on Feb. 28, after participating in the exercise Foal Eagle.

Guardian was one of two Navy mine countermeasures ship that participated in the exercise, along with USS Avenger (MCM 1), conducting mine hunting operations off the Korean peninsula.

The exercise takes place yearly as a reflection of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty, which was signed on Oct. 1, 1953. The purpose of Foal Eagle is to enhance combat readiness that demonstrates the alliance commitment to the defense of ROK through the combined and joint training.

Sailors aboard the Guardian worked hard and showed selfless dedication and intense enthusiasm over the course of the exercise. They manned watch stations with a port and starboard rotation, working six hours on and six hours off, four days straight.

Many of the Sailors aboard Guardian took advantage of the real world training that the exercise scenarios presented.

“It was refreshing to actually get a chance to look for real contacts instead of sitting in a simulator,” said Mineman Seaman Cody Doerrman, a sonar operator whose job during the exercise was to identify several mine-like contacts.

On March 11, the ship carried out its first fuel replenishment out to sea with the dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9).

“Essex ARG Sailors and Marines see the suffering that is going on and we know that we can help. It's what we are trained to do,” said Lee. “We can't wait to get on station to get started in helping Japan restore some normalcy in the affected areas.”

Mine countermeasures ships, due to their size and speed refuel from astern rather than alongside the ship.