In this file photo, ships of the JMSDF and Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group steam in formation at the conclusion of a bilateral exercise in the Philippine Sea in March. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Kurtis A. Hatcher)

PHILIPPINE SEA - Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) commenced an at-sea bilateral exercise in the Philippine Sea, April 23 (local).

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy DDG (112) were joined by JMSDF destroyers JS Samidare (DD-106) and JS Ashigara (DDG-178), both out of Sasebo, Japan, as the San Diego-based strike group continued its northern transit in the Western Pacific.

The routine exercise is designed to improve combined maritime response and defense capabilities, increase combined maneuvering proficiency, and ensure maritime forces remain ready to defend the region when called upon.

“We always look forward to operating with our Japanese partners,” said Rear Adm. Jim Kilby, commander, Carrier Strike Group 1. “The relationship between the JMSDF and the United States is better than ever and it’s in part thanks to these bilateral exercises.”

The Carl Vinson Strike Group has conducted three previous bilateral exercises with the JMSDF since deploying earlier this year, most recently in March. The U.S. Navy conducts bilateral and multilateral exercises like this routinely as well as operations in the Western Pacific Ocean with the JMSDF throughout the year.

CSG-1 departed San Diego for a regularly scheduled deployment to the western Pacific, Jan. 5 and is comprised of Carl Vinson, CVW 2, Lake Champlain and embarked Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 1, consisting of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Michael Murphy and USS Wayne E. Meyer (108).