The U.S. amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) amphibious transport dock ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003) operated together in the East China Sea, Jan. 13.
During the exercise, America and Kunisaki conducted communication and maneuvering drills, personnel exchanges, and a flight operations demonstration.
“We are extremely pleased with this first opportunity for USS America to operate side-by-side with our JMSDF allies,” said Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7. “This exercise allows us to build on our already strong relationship and helps to underscore our commitment to this incredibly important partnership and region.”
JMSDF Rear Adm. Shirane Tsutomu, commander of the JMSDF Mine Warfare Force, visited USS America where he met with ESG leadership and toured the ship to familiarize himself with capabilities of the America-class amphibious assault ship.
“There is no better partner than the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Our Sailors and Marines enjoyed the opportunity to work with this first-rate team of professionals,” said Capt. Luke Frost, USS America’s commanding officer. “We are proud to be part of Forward Deployed Naval Forces and inherit the legacy of this critical alliance for the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific.”
During the visit, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 demonstrated flight operations of the F-35B Lightning II. The America-class LHA was built from the ground up to support flight operations with the F-35B and has an extended hangar bay which allows for greater aviation maintenance capacity over the Wasp-class LHD.
America, the flagship for the America Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit team, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
By MC3 Vincent Zline, USS America