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News | Dec. 8, 2023

U.S., Japan ships complete bilateral exercise in Gulf of Aden

Carrier Strike Group Two (CSG-2)

GULF OF ADEN – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Murasame-class destroyer FS Akebono (DD 108) conducted bilateral exercise in the Gulf of Aden, Nov. 25.

Meeting at sea, the ships practiced a range of surface warfare events, including visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS), helicopter deck landing qualifications (DLQ), divisional tactics (DIVTACs), and personnel exchanges.

“Mason and Akebono sailing together demonstrated our shared resolve to maintain freedom of the high seas and open sea lines of communication,” said Cmdr. Justin B. Smith, Mason’s commanding officer. “Our combined presence sends a strong message to those who would challenge us as we continue to support global security.”

Rendezvousing with partners and allies at sea allows the U.S. Navy to operate closely with other navies and in ways shore exercises do not allow. It further provides the crews with real-world situations and hands-on training to practice everyday watchstanding and communication skills with foreign navies.

An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter, attached to the “Swamp Foxes” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74, deployed aboard Mason, performed DLQs on the Japanese destroyer. The personnel exchange included the cross-decking crewmembers between Mason and Akebono via a small boat, where they toured each other’s ship, interacted with one another, and ate lunch with the crew, increasing cultural understanding.

“We enjoyed meaningful conversation and are all looking forward to working with the crew of Akebono again in the future,” said Lt. Mitchell Kempisty, Mason’s Operations Officer, who visited Akebono.

The DIVTACs included coordinated tactical maneuvering at close quarters, meant to hone communication skills and techniques for the ships operating with one another. Mason’s VBSS team briefed Akebono’s team on boarding procedures, tactical movements, and lessons learned from operational experiences, which will assist both countries in improving international maritime security in the region.

Mason departed its homeport of Mayport, Florida, on Oct. 13 for a scheduled deployment. As a part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKECSG), Mason is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to support maritime security and stability in the Middle East.

The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses approximately 2.5 million square miles of water space and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Strait of Bab al-Mandeb.

For more information about Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, head to Facebook (/CSGTWO & /TheCVN69); Instagram (@CarrierStrikeGroupTwo & @TheCVN69); LinkedIn (Carrier-Strike-Group-TWO).