USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO-199), rear, sail with JS Kaga (DDH 184) and JS Ikazuchi (DD 107), Oct. 13. (JMSDF)

SOUTH CHINA SEA - Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) joined Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Escort Flotilla 2 during integrated operations in the South China Sea beginning Oct. 12.

U.S. naval forces routinely operate alongside regional allies and partners to strengthen our shared commitments to regional stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific. This integration coincides with the 245th anniversary of the U.S. Navy’s establishment on Oct. 13th, 1775.

"I can't think of a better way to celebrate the U.S. Navy's 245th birthday than by operating at sea alongside our close allies of Japan," said Cmdr. Ryan T. Easterday, commanding officer, USS John S. McCain. "Together, our nations remain committed to ensuring regional security and stability in the Indo-Pacific through forward-deployed naval presence and by remaining ready to respond swiftly and decisively to any contingency."

Participants operated and trained together throughout, exercising integrated maritime operations including a replenishment at sea (RAS) and communication and datalink drills. Professional integrated engagements allow the U.S. Navy and allies the opportunity to build upon existing strong relationships and improve collective readiness and response to any situation.

For more than 60 years, the U.S.-Japan alliance has been the cornerstone of stability and security in the Indo-Pacific and will continue to play that role in the future.

“We conducted a bilateral exercise with our close partner, the U.S. Navy, in the South China Sea,” said Capt. Nishida Satoshi, commanding officer, JS Kaga. “Through this exercise, we enhanced our tactical skills, and demonstrated our bond is unshakable. Even during the COVID-19 situation, the JMSDF continues to work with allied and partner navies, thus contributing to the regional peace and stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Participating U.S. units in addition to McCain included fleet replenishment oiler USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO-199). The JMSDF Escort Flotilla 2, commanded by Rear Adm. Konno Yasushige, includes Kaga and JS Ikazuchi (DD 107).

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.

Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Zachary Kai signals a helicopter from JS Kaga (DDH 184) to land aboard USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), Oct. 12. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Markus Castaneda)