USS America (LHA 6) launches an F-35B Lightning II fighter while sailing with JS Akebono (DD 108). (U.S. Navy/MCSN Jomark A. Almazan)

EAST CHINA SEA - Amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit joined Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Murasame class destroyer JS Akebono (DD 108) for a series of collaborative events while sailing in the Philippine Sea and East China Sea, April 9-11.

Operating together for the first time, America and Akebono conducted bilateral communications exercises and division tactics designed to enhance interoperability between the two navies and emphasize the importance of communications and coordination while operating underway.

"We are excited to be sailing alongside our Japanese friends and teammates in the East China Sea, just as our team aboard USS Gabrielle Giffords did in the Andaman Sea last week," said Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7. "In these challenging times, it is deeply important that we continue to come together as allies and partners in this incredibly vital region of the world.”

America and Akebono demonstrated warfighting readiness during a replenishment-at-sea, April 11. The two ships connected fuel lines and conducted underway replenishment with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194) strengthening the impact of sustained operational readiness for both maritime services.

“Our operations with the crew of the JS Akebono make us better shipmates and ensure both the U.S. Navy and JMSDF maintain our warfighting readiness at the highest levels," said Kacher.

JS Akebono is deployed to the East China Sea to maintain regional security and stability.

“We could show our skill and capability though this exercise.” said Cmdr. Kobayashi Seitaro, commanding officer of JS Akebono. “I am convinced that Japan-U.S. relationship and interoperability is enhanced more strongly.”

Cohesive operations with partners and allies like these allow the U.S. Navy to operate with other navies by conducting exercises beyond the beach and into international sea lanes. Furthermore, it offers the Sailors with tangible situations to practice their everyday watchstanding capabilities and communication skills with foreign vessels.

“The America ESG and JMSDF have maintained superior cooperative ability since America’s forward deployment to the region,” said Capt. Richard Lebron, Amphibious Squadron 11 Commodore. “The importance of providing a versatile and mission-ready strike group to the region cannot be overstated. America continues to provide steadfast support and interoperability with the JMSDF and other allies and partners.”

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.

USS America (LHA 6) sails alongside JS Akebono (DD 108). (U.S. Navy/MCSN Jomark A. Almazan)

Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Mercedes Amador guides an F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft aboard USS America (LHA 6). (U.S. Navy/MCSN Jonathan Berlier)

JS Akebono (DD 108) sails next to USS America (LHA 6). (U.S. Navy/MCSN Jonathan Berlier)

n F-35B Lighting II fighter aircraft lands aboard USS America (LHA 6) as the amphibious assault ship sails in formation with JS Akebono (DD 108). (U.S. Navy/MC3 Vincent E. Zline)