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U.S. Navy conducts multinational gunnery exercises in Indian Ocean, Philippine Sea

12 November 2020

From Lt. Mark Langford, DESRON 15

Two guided-missile destroyers conducted simultaneous live fire events while exercising with allies and partners.

PHILIPPINE SEA - Two U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers participated in separate, multinational live-fire gunnery exercises on the same day, Nov. 5, in both the Indian Ocean and international waters off the coast of Japan.

USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) conducted live-fire surface and air exercises in the Bay of Bengal as part of exercise Malabar while USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), in the Philippine Sea, joined the Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Winnipeg (FFH 338) during a live-fire surface engagement exercise.

“Today’s simultaneous live fire events in two different oceans across the theater are example of the lethality we bring to bear alongside our strategic allies and partners in the region,” said Capt. Steven DeMoss, commodore, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15.

McCain joined ships from the Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) for a coordinated live-fire air gunnery exercise, targeting a towed aerial target, followed by a similar surface engagement during scheduled events for Malabar.

On the same morning, more than 3,000 miles away, Curtis Wilbur joined HMCS Winnipeg of the Royal Canadian Navy during a live-fire gunnery exercise to engage an unmanned, remote-operated surface target.

“We were able to test and train our close-in weapon system (CIWS), 25mm machine gun and .50-caliber machine gun operators,” said Ensign William Lee, gunnery officer of USS Curtis Wilbur. “Being able to test those capabilities as well as our crew’s abilities against a moving surface target was a great opportunity.”

Exercises such as these allow for practical training while exchanging skills and cultures and increasing understanding of multinational operations.

“Australia, Canada, India, and Japan are key strategic allies and partners and critical stakeholders to upholding stability and regional security,” said DeMoss. “Together, our job is to be ready – now and always – to bring as much responsive, flexible, enduring, and overwhelming force as we can, to any situation where force is required.”

Participants in both exercises include USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), along with Indian Navy Ships Shakti (A57), Ranvijay (D55), Shivalik (F47), HMAS Ballarat (FFG 155), from the RAN, JS Ōnami (DD 111) from the JMSDF, and HMCS Winnipeg (FFH 338) from the Royal Canadian Navy.

John S. McCain and Curtis Wilbur are underway conducting operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific, while assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy's largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet's principal surface force.

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