The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), British Royal Navy and U.S. Navy will join forces for their second trilateral anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise this week, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet announced today. The ASW drill will take place in the Western Pacific and is scheduled for kick off on March 14.
According to the U.S. Navy, the exercise will involve a U.S. Navy P-8A maritime patrol aircraft from the “War Eagles” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 16, the Royal Navy Type 23 (Duke-class) ASW frigate, HMS Montrose, the JMSDF Murasame-class destroyer JS Murasame , a P-1 JMDPF maritime patrol aircraft, and a JMSDF submarine.
“The Royal Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, and United States Navy all support a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Captain Brian Erickson, the commander of Task Force Seven Two (CFT 72). “Exercises like this demonstrate our nation’s resolve in the region, while improving interoperability, maintaining readiness, and learning best practices from one another.”
CTF 72 spearheads patrol, reconnaissance and surveillance forces in support of U.S. naval forces in the Western Pacific. Patrol Squadron 16 is currently deployed on a rotational deployment to 7th Fleet out of Misawa, Japan.
“The improvement of our tactical skillset is expected throughout this Trilateral EX,” said Commander Shusaku Okada, the commanding officer of JS Murasame. “I also hope that further cooperation be strengthened with the Royal Navy, the United States Navy, and the mutual understanding be deepened.”
The first trilateral ASW exercise involving the three navies was held in December 2018 that saw the participation of the JMSDF helicopter destroyer JS Izumo, the Royal Type 23 frigate, HMS Argyll, and a U.S. Navy submarine, as well as a P-8A maritime patrol aircraft.
Notably, the JS Izumo, Japan’s premium ASW surface platform, is expected to be converted into an aircraft carrier capable of launching the F-35B—the U.S. Marine Corps variant of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter capable of vertical or short takeoffs and vertical landings (STOVL) without requiring a catapult launcher—from its flight deck.
“HMS Montrose has been operating in the Pacific since December 2018, and our upcoming exercise with our allies in the [U.S. Navy] and JMSDF will be one of the highlights of our time in this important region,” noted Commander Conor O’Neill, the HMS Montrose commanding officer. “The Royal Navy has a long history of cooperation with both Japan and the United States, and we will all benefit a great deal from training together.”
The chiefs of the British, U.S., and Japanese navies signed a trilateral cooperation agreement in 2016. The agreement committed the three navies to closer cooperation, as well as increased exercises and joint patrols in the future.