SOUTH CHINA SEA - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) practiced the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) with Japanese ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003), June 2.
CUES, a set of procedures endorsed by naval leaders at the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) this past April, is a guideline for unplanned maritime encounters while at sea, providing standards for communication, safety procedures and maneuvering instructions for naval ships and aircraft.
Blue Ridge and Kunisaki rendezvoused at approximately 10 p.m. and practiced signaling protocol, utilizing CUES as a means of maritime communication between one another.
"CUES was primarily developed to reduce regional tensions at sea, giving ships a vital means of communication, for reasons of both safety and security," said Blue Ridge Commanding Officer Capt. Richard McCormack. "This training opportunity with our Japanese allies allowed us to familiarize our watch teams with the recently implemented CUES procedures and provided everyone involved with a unique hands-on training evolution."
Blue Ridge and Kunisaki acted out communication scenarios, giving each other a chance to see how CUES would affect the condition of a real-time situation.
"Solid communication with other vessels in your immediate area is standard operating procedure on the bridge and knowing what to do if you unexpectedly encounter another vessel is critical to the safety and security of our ship," said Lt. Kevin Richardson, Blue Ridge officer of the deck during the evolution. "By utilizing signals, flags, or radios in the sea lanes, we can exhibit quick and effective means of communication with other vessels we may encounter unexpectedly."
Blue Ridge is currently wrapping up a patrol of the Indo-Pacific region, and took the opportunity to train with Kunisaki as it transited to support Pacific Partnership 2014, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission in the region.
Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for 34 years. As the flag ship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas, Blue Ridge is vital in maintaining partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.