Mineman 3rd Class Latron Jolly removes safety lines to launch a mine neutralization vehicle from USS Chief (MCM 14), Nov. 26. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Jordan Crouch)

SASEBO, Japan - The mine countermeasures ship USS Chief (MCM 14) participated in Mine Warfare Exercise 3JA 2018, Nov. 24-27.

3JA is an annual exercise series that is designed to increase proficiency in mine countermeasure operations between the U.S. Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and this year, for the first time, the Royal Australian Navy.

"These opportunities to train with our partners demonstrate the commitment we have to maintain peace and stability throughout the region,” said Lt. Cmdr. Fred Crayton, commanding officer of Chief.

During the exercise Sailors aboard Chief operated sonar to detect dummy mines placed throughout a location.

“You have to be super focused when operating the sonar,” said Mineman 3rd Class Adrian Ortega, a sonar operator. “Exercises like this help us stay ready and sharpen our capabilities.”

The exercise culminated in a combined phase in which Chief and JMSDF ships coordinated to clear a route for ships through a simulated minefield in one of the designated exercise areas.

“Each year 3JA gets better because we are able to bring forth valuable lessons learned and develop relevant mine warfare scenarios," said Crayton.

This year, 3JA was also used as an opportunity to enhance amphibious operations during mine warfare.

Lt. Donald Crisman, the operations officer of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), attended 3JA as an amphibious operations advisor for JMSDF forces to discuss amphibious operations timeline, resources and capabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps and how it all factors into the mine warfare planning required to execute an amphibious landing at an objective.

“I learned a lot about JMSDF mine warfare forces, and our own MCM capabilities and planning requirements,” said Crisman. “I also learned a lot about the command and control capabilities of JMSDF mine warfare forces and how U.S. and JMSDF units operate together in a combined operation.”

Chief is part of Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7, which serves as a ready response force for mine warfare operations throughout the Indo-Pacific region.