The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), departs Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka for its 2017 patrol. FLEACT Yokosuka provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of 7th Fleet's forward-deployed naval forces, 71 tenant commands, and 26,000 military and civilian personnel, May 16, 2017. (Photo by (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart)
In this file photo, the Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), patrols waters south of Japan, before returning to Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, at the end of a three-month patrol in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. During the patrol, Ronald Reagan participated in exercises Valiant Shield, Invincible Spirit and Keen Sword, designed to enhance joint military operations with partner nations throughout the region, Nov 21, 2016. The crew also completed its Unit Level Training Assessment-Sustainment and Maintenance and Material Management Assessment. Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke)
PHILIPPINE SEA -- Officers and enlisted personnel from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense-Force (JMSDF) embarked the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) to conduct collaborative training and combined operations with staff members of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 and Commander, Task Force (CTF) 70, May 29 to June 9.
"I loved working with the JMSDF. They are professional surface warriors and always do their job," said Lt. Eliah Ledbetter, a surface operations officer assigned to DESRON 15. "It was a great experience. "
Throughout the combined operations, JMSDF and DESRON 15 personnel stood watch together working closely to facilitate maritime coordination. During their time aboard Ronald Reagan, JMSDF ships, Japan Ship (JS) Hyuga (DDH 181) and JS Ashigara (DDG 178), integrated and sailed with the Ronald Reagan strike group.
"I think working together, Japan and the U.S. feels like family every time," said Cmdr. Hiroaki Tanaka, assigned to Commander Escort Flotilla 2 (CCF2).
Working closely continues the relationship built between maritime forces, both on and off the watchfloor.
"I appreciate working with the DESRON 15 and CTF 70 wardrooms," said Tanaka. "I hope 'aunn no kokyu' [meaning a close relationship] is formed from working together."
From conducting coordinated maritime formations to small weapon tactics, the collaboration efforts focused on practicing communication techniques during all phases of the U.S. Navy and JMSDF operations.
"They got to see how we operate and we got to see how they operate," said Ledbetter. "Watching them integrate into our Strike Group is very beneficial to both of us. If anything were to ever happen, we have an ally that can seamlessly integrate with us."
Continuing combined operations builds ties between the U.S. and Japanese militaries to improve their proficiency to support security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
"I hope by working with CTF70 and DESRON 15 we can understand each other and teach each other," said Tanaka. "I also hope for a safe navigation and a smooth transit for Ronald Reagan to the next mission."
Bilateral collaboration efforts are slated to continue throughout the years to come.
"This is the third major operation Destroyer Squadron 15 has conducted in the last 15 months with Rear Adm. [Hiroyuki] Izumi and CCF2," said Capt. Jeffrey A. Bennett, II, commander, DESRON 15. "We have become great warriors together and also friends."
The U.S. Navy and JMSDF routinely work together to enhance interoperability within the 7th Fleet area of operations.