USS Patriot (MCM 7) returns to Fleet Activities Sasebo, Aug. 1. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Kristopher S. Haley/)

SASEBO, Japan - The Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Patriot (MCM 7) returned to Sasebo, Japan, after a routine patrol in U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, Aug. 1.

During the ship's patrol, Patriot conducted a series of port visits throughout Japan and participated with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in the annual bilateral mine countermeasures training exercise 2JA.

"This crew performed superbly in both building relations ashore and executing our primary mission area of mine warfare," said Lt. Cmdr. Emily Royse, commanding officer of Patriot, who will relinquish command to former executive officer Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Hamilton in a change of command ceremony on Aug. 5. "The ability to sweep for mines and establish a Q-route in conjunction with our Japanese ally is a critical capability – and is why we do this type of training."

2JA was held July 17-28 in Mutsu Bay, in the vicinity of the Japanese port of Ominato. Patriot joined other MCM-capable units such as Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 14 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 to conduct coordinated MCM ops together alongside similar Japanese assets.

The exercise culminated in a combined phase during which U.S. and JMSDF personnel coordinated and communicated to clear a route for ships through a simulated minefield in designated exercise areas.

Patriot made stops in Kure, Osaka and Hakodate en route to 2JA. While in Hakodate, the ship conducted an outreach alongside their JMSDF counterparts to clean up a local cemetery where foreign service members have been laid to rest. The Patriot crew and JMSDF personnel honored two fallen Sailors from USS Vandalia, one of the ships part of Commodore Matthew C. Perry's U.S. Navy squadron, with a wreath laying ceremony.

Patriot is assigned to Commander, Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 7, is forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan.