USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and JS Fuyuzuki (DD 118) sail in formation, Oct. 27. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Codie L. Soule)

PHILIPPINE SEA - The Ronald Reagan Strike Group and JMSDF Escort Division 12 conducted bilateral exercise at sea in support of regional security and stability in the Indo-Pacific, Oct. 24 through Nov. 2.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and U.S. Navy executed several exercises, strengthening interoperability between the two maritime forces.

“Conducting bilateral exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force enables both navies to continue to strengthen the unique and seamless integration of our forces," said Capt. Steve H. DeMoss, commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15. "Bonded by our shared interests, shared values, and a commitment to freedom of the seas, the JMSDF and forward-deployed U.S. naval forces work together regularly to promote security and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific region.”

The two forces demonstrated their partnership and combined sea power by focusing their naval officer exchanges on sea combat watch standing integration. U.S. Navy and JMSDF watch standers coordinated maneuvering operations, and tactical battle exercises that enhanced the ability of both navies to respond to maritime threats.

Rear Adm. George M. Wikoff, commander, Task Force 70, and DeMoss, were hosted aboard the Akizuki-class destroyer JS Fuyuzuki (DD 118) by Cmdr. Shusuke Kitaguchi, Fuyuzuki’s commanding officer, and Capt. Kimihiro Ichiyanagi, commander, Escort Division 12. While on board Fuyuzuki, the senior leadership from both navies discussed the continued integration of their units and the partnership that has been built and strengthened for over six decades between the JMSDF and U.S. Navy.

“Continual, regularly-based, bilateral exercises between the U.S. Navy and the JMSDF contribute to enhanced tactical skills and interoperability with each other," said Capt. Kimihiro Ichiyanagi, commander, Escort Division 12 JMSDF. "In addition to the force and staff level accomplishments, I believe our synchronized bilateral activities at sea also help us to promote and maintain an open and stable Indo-Pacific region.”

Ichiyanagi and several of his staff members embarked aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), and stood operational watches with DESRON 15, integrated into the strike group’s planning and operational staff, and worked alongside U.S. Navy Sailors to increase the maritime force’s interoperability.

The bilateral exercise participants included Fuyuzuki, Ronald Reagan, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62).

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest numbered fleet in the world, and with the help of 35 other maritime-nation allies and partners, the U.S. Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific region for more than 70 years, providing credible, ready forces to help preserve peace and prevent conflict.

Sailors from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force observe flight operations aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Oct. 25. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Erica Bechard)