The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and the Japanese Ship Kashima, a naval training vessel of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, transit together during a maritime exercise near Dutch Harbor on Sept. 20, 2021. (Courtesy photo / USCG)

Coast Guard and Japanese military conduct joint training at sea

The partner nations were able to take advantage of the serendiptious opportunity.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and Japanese Ship Kashima were able to conduct joint training near Dutch Harbor last week.

It isn’t the first time the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force training vessel has visited Alaska, said Lt. Ben Hinchman, major cutter manager for Coast Guard District 17.

“They were in our neck of the woods, so we want to take advantage of the opportunity. I believe their first time up in Alaska was this time last year,” Hinchman said in a phone interview. “We did a joint exercise with the [(Coast Guard Cutter) Alex Haley and the Kashima.”

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It’s also not the first time this year forces from the JSDF has participated in joint training in Alaska, with fighter and support squadrons from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force taking part in Red Flag-Alaska in June.

“We wanted to do another joint exercise with them to promote that cooperation with them, especially being Pacific partners,” Hinchman said. “It’s really good opportunity to promote our partnerships. They definitely highlight the global crossroads that the Bering Sea and Bering Strait are becoming. You can have a major impact on the future of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force by doing an exercise with 110 of their newest officers.”

The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball’s crew lines the rails in anticipation of rendering honors to the Japanese Ship Kashima, a naval training vessel of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, during an at-sea exercise near Dutch Harbor on Sept. 20, 2021. (Courtesy photo / USCG)

The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball’s crew lines the rails in anticipation of rendering honors to the Japanese Ship Kashima, a naval training vessel of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, during an at-sea exercise near Dutch Harbor on Sept. 20, 2021. (Courtesy photo / USCG)

The Kashima is a training vessel, Hinchman said, hosting 110 freshly commissioned officers as they learn more about service at sea.

“I know there was a communications exercise and a bit of formation steaming. They had an exchanging of honors where they steam past each other while manning the rails,” Hinchman said. “It’s not a standard kind of Coast Guard evolution that we do. Considering the ships that we’re doing it with, the Alex Haley and the Kimball, because they operate with the Navy more frequently, they’re more familiar with division tactics.”

The Coast Guard also practices with the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard, with the cutters Kimball and Midgett doing separate joint exercises with each respective service earlier in the year, Hinchman said.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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