In this file photo, USS Patriot (MCM 7) departs White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan, earlier this year. (U.S. Navy/LT David Levy)

OMINATO, Japan - U.S. mine countermeasures (MCM) units and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force MCM units are scheduled to commence the 2016 Mine Countermeasures Exercise (MCMEX) 2JA, July 17.

MCMEX 2JA is an annual bilateral exercise held between the U.S. and Japan to strengthen interoperability and increase proficiencies in mine countermeasure operations.

"We are looking forward to working again and learning from our Japanese counterparts," said Capt. Jim Miller, commodore, Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 7. "Mine countermeasures remains a critical capability in this dynamic theater. And this exercise will pay dividends in increasing our ability to execute these types of missions."

During the exercise, participating units will practice unit-level mine countermeasures tactics to include sweeping, hunting, helicopter casting, and neutralization using remotely operated vehicles, sonar, and sweep gear.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel will conduct dive operations from JMSDF ships, U.S. ships and MH-60S helicopters in support of mine countermeasures efforts.

The exercise will culminate in a combined phase in which U.S. and JMSDF will coordinate and communicate to clear a route for ships through a simulated minefield in one of the designated exercise areas.

U.S. units participating include Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Patriot (MCM 7), Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 14, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, and staff from Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 7.