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USS John S. McCain sails alongside JS Ōnami, HMAS Ballarat

08 November 2020

From Lt. Mark Langford, DESRON 15

The trilateral group sail began following the first phase of recently-completed exercise Malabar in the Bay of Bengal.

INDIAN OCEAN - Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) joined the Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Takanami-class destroyer JS Ōnami (DD 111) during integrated operations in the Indian Ocean, Nov. 6.

The trilateral group sail commenced following the first phase of exercise Malabar, hosted by the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal.

"We integrate, operate and train with our regional partners and allies at every opportunity," said Cmdr. Ryan T. Easterday, McCain's commanding officer. "Here in the Indian Ocean, far from our respective homelands, operating with ships from Australia and Japan not only strengthens our nation's alliance but also shows the rest of the world we are ready to respond, together, to any actions that threaten open access to the seas and airways for all."

During the group sail, McCain, Ōnami, and Ballarat conducted a replenishment-at-sea, dynamic maneuvering drills, and anti-submarine tactics drills.

This group sail marked the seventh occurrence of integration operations between Australia, Japan, and the U.S. in the U.S 7th Fleet area of operations together in 2020.

“I am sure that, in addition to the Malabar first half, this trilateral exercise with the Royal Australian Navy and the United States Navy contributes to the regional peace and stability,” said Cmdr. Ishidera Takahiko, commanding officer, JS Ōnami. “The JMSDF is determined to take steps towards a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ together with our partner navies.”

Previous exercises this year involving the U.S., Japan, and Australia in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations include exercise Sea Dragon in January, a trilateral exercise with the Reagan Carrier Strike Group in late July, a multinational group sail with USS Barry (DDG 52) in early September, which also included the Republic of Korea Navy, Exercise Pacific Vanguard in mid-September, a trilateral group sail in the South China Sea in October, and most recently phase one of exercise MALABAR, hosted by the Indian Navy.

John S. McCain is 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. U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability, and prevent conflict.

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