NATO and Japan Counter-Piracy Forces conduct exercise in Gulf of Aden
GULF OF ADEN - Yesterday, NATO and Japanese maritime forces conducted the first-ever exercise between the two forces in the Gulf of Aden. The participants were the destroyer JS TAKANAMI, operating as part of Combined Task Force 151, and HDMS ESBERN SNARE, the Task Force 508 flagship of NATO's counter-piracy Operation OCEAN SHIELD. Japan and NATO counter-piracy forces have met at sea for discussions and briefings on several previous occasions, but this marks the first time the two forces have conducted an exercise together.
Photo credits: Mikkel Whitey Iversen (Seaman, Royal Danish Navy)
The exercise focused squarely on the skill sets required for counter piracy operations. The forces demonstrated the full spectrum of communications interoperability, exercising tactical data links, satellite communications, voice communications and visual signalling. Building upon this framework, the forces then focused upon tactical operations. The boarding teams from ESBERN SNARE and TAKANAMI conducted integrated training for several hours, refining their communications, tactical movements and procedures together.
This culminated in the combined Japanese and NATO boarding team conducting a compliant boarding of TAKANAMI simulating a suspicious motor vessel. The team demonstrated the procedures and tactics they had trained to earlier, conducting a comprehensive search of the vessel while maintaining security of the crew and ship. These skills are the foundation of maintaining security of the maritime community within the counter piracy area of operations.
Commander of the NATO Task Force 508, Commodore Aage Buur Jensen, visited TAKANAMI during a part of the exercise and thus got to see the action on both ships. He was delighted to again be working with Japanese colleagues.
"Last time I was in the region was in December 2013 till February 2014 as Commander of Combined Task Force 151," said Commodore Jensen. "There it was my pleasure to be the first foreign commander to have Japanese units under my command in the counter-piracy effort in this region. I experienced some highly skilled and professional officers. On a personal level, I am very pleased that we now have this practical cooperation between NATO and the Japan Maritime Self Defence Forces (JMSDF)."
The commodore also emphasized the importance of coordination between the international counter piracy forces operating in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
"By coordinating our activities and sharing information, we stand a much better chance to secure the waters in the region and thereby keep the sea lanes safe and secure," said Commodore Jensen. "For this reason, it is very pleasing to see such a successful exercise today. There is no doubt that the JMSDF is an important and very capable actor in the region, and I am truly looking forward to expanding the fine cooperation NATO has with Japan."
Japan is a valued partner for NATO. This exercise was conducted in line with the Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme (IPCP) between Japan and NATO on which NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reached basic agreement during PM Abe's visit to NATO Headquarters in May 2014.