|111114-N-RI884-296 PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 13, 2011) The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) helicopter destroyer JS Kurama (DDH 144) performs maneuvers during training as part of the integrated maritime exercise Koa Kai. Kurama is participating in Koa Kai to prepare independent deployers in multiple warfare areas and provide training in a multi-ship environment. (U.S. Navy photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker/Released)|
Hawaii-based Destroyer Squadron 31 completed a week of dynamic training as ships returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Nov. 17-18, from the latest Koa Kai exercise in Hawaiian waters.
It was the first time U.S. Navy ships were joined by a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) surface ship for a Koa Kai exercise. The JMSDF helicopter destroyer JS Kurama (DDH 144) participated in the exercise that began Nov. 10.
"The Koa Kai exercise provided intense and comprehensive training for all of us," said JMSDF Capt. Shinji Maruzawa, commander, Escort Division 2. "It was remarkable how well we worked together, demonstrating good teamwork and sharing skills. We have great support from our U.S. Navy friends and partners here in Hawaii."
Kurama joined guided-missile destroyers USS O'Kane (DDG 77) and USS Chafee (DDG 90); frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37); and Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11). The surface ships of CDS 31 are joined by assets from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Helicopter Squadron Light 37, Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 2, and the Royal Canadian Air Force 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron.
"This is the first time we've had a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship participate in Koa Kai," said Capt. Dave Welch, commander, Destroyer Squadron 31. "They were a fantastic addition to the exercise. This gives us an opportunity to exercise in another area that our deployed ships deal with, operations with coalition and allied partners."
Hawaii-based surface combatants regularly deploy to the Asia Pacific region and often train with international partners while on deployment. Koa Kai demonstrates the Pacific Fleet commitment to forward readiness and prepares Middle Pacific ships to meet current and future challenges.
"The opportunity to work together gives our crews the chance to see that there is strength in the diversity of capabilities that our allies and partners bring and gives us a chance to work closely with them in a controlled training environment," Welch said. "It also gives our allies confidence in the rigor that we put in our preparations to go forward in deployed areas."
Sailors aboard the JMSDF and U.S. Navy ships participated in visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) drills; tactical training; anti-submarine warfare and live-fire ammunition exercises; and other drills and training.
"We just returned from major exercise Koa Kai, which translates as 'Sea Warrior' from the Hawaiian language," said Firecontrolman 2nd Class Deborah Rosen, USS O'Kane. "It's a major test of the entire ship's battle readiness. It's challenging. It has to be. It's meant to be. It's designed to be. It's to make sure that we're really going to be ready to go out on deployment and accomplish our mission."
Units participating in Koa Kai 12-1, the first of two such training events in FY 12, conducted integrated flight operations, anti-surface and anti-submarine training and dynamic ship maneuvers.
Koa Kai supports the U.S. Pacific Fleet's mid-Pacific surface combatant operational employment program, which calls for all Hawaii-based surface combatants to use the strategic location in the Middle Pacific to conduct intermediate and advanced training in a multi-ship environment. The training helps each ship prepare to deploy and respond quickly to support the Maritime Strategy.