USS Blue Ridge operates with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

30 March 2021

From MCC Charles White, USS Blue Ridge

The exercise with JS Kongo (DDG 173) in the East China Sea included maneuvering and communications drills to enhance interoperability.
An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter prepares to land aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19).
An MH-60S Sea Hawk assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12 prepares to land aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) during a bilateral exercise with JS Kongo (DDG 173), March 29. (U.S. Navy/MCC Charles White)
An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter prepares to land aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19).
210329-N-GO855-1196
An MH-60S Sea Hawk assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12 prepares to land aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) during a bilateral exercise with JS Kongo (DDG 173), March 29. (U.S. Navy/MCC Charles White)
Photo By: Chief Petty Officer Charles White
VIRIN: 210329-N-GO855-1196

EAST CHINA SEA - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) operated with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) guided-missile destroyer JS Kongo (DDG 173), March 29, as a test of the partner nations' combined maritime skills and intercommunication capabilities.

“This bilateral exercise was an excellent display of solidarity with our host nation and the JMSDF,” said Capt. Tim Waits, Blue Ridge commanding officer. “It provided important training and experience that enables both crews to operate and communicate safely and effectively while working closely together."

The exercise consisted of multiple ships sailing in formation while practicing communications and maneuvering procedures, with an aim toward increasing and improving cooperation and interoperability with naval counterparts in the region. Unique to this exercise was the participation of aircraft embarked aboard Blue Ridge, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12, which flew in formation with the ships and transferred Waits from Blue Ridge to Kongo during maneuvers to engage with leadership and visit the ship’s crew.

“In addition to improving the JMSDF’s tactical capabilities, we have deepened interoperability with the U.S. Navy,” said Capt. Fujisaki Masaru, commanding officer of JS Kongo. “I am convinced that we can improve deterrence and interoperability in response to possible contingencies through regular bilateral exercises such as the one we conducted.”

Blue Ridge has been forward-deployed and operating in the area of responsibility (AOR) for more than 40 years, continuing her primary mission of supporting Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet while conducting sustained operations at sea. Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy, and as U.S.7th Fleet command ship, is responsible for patrolling and fostering relationships within the Indo-Pacific region.

The U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) conducts a bilateral exercise with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force guided-missile destroyer JS Kongo (DDG 173) in the East China Sea.
210329-N-HR150-1406 USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) sails alongside JS Kongo (DDG 173).. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Matt Hall)
SLIDESHOW | 1 images | 210329-N-HR150-1406 USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) sails alongside JS Kongo (DDG 173).. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Matt Hall)

“This combined exercise consisted of two forces from different nations working together toward a single end, which to me, represents strengthening alliances at the fleet level, and is something our Sailors, their families back home and our country can be proud of,” said Waits.

As the U.S. Navy's largest forward deployed fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet routinely operates between 50-70 ships and submarines and 140 aircraft with approximately 20,000 Sailors. 7th Fleet's area of operation spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South Pacific, providing security and stability to the region. 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security while conducting a wide-range of missions to support humanitarian efforts and uphold international laws and freedoms of the sea.

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