US and Japanese Navies began Mine Warfare Exercise 3JA 2020 off the coast of southwestern Japan

According to information published by the U.S. Department of Defense on November 20, 2020, the U.S. Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), began the at sea portion of Mine Warfare Exercise (MINEX) 3JA 2020 off the coast of southwestern Japan on November 20, 2020.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The mine countermeasures ship USS Patriot (MCM 7) sails with JS Enoshima (MSC-604) during Mine Warfare Exercise (MIWEX) 2JA 2020. (Picture source U.S. Navy)

MINEX 3JA is part of an annual series of exercises between the U.S. Navy and allied navies designed to increase proficiency in mine countermeasure operations. During the four-day exercise, participants conduct unit-level mine warfare tactics to include mine hunting, detection, and prosecution. The exercise will culminate in a combined phase in which U.S. and JMSDF will coordinate and communicate to clear a route for ships through a simulated minefield.

JMSDF Mine Division 3 and U.S. Navy Commander, Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 worked together throughout the exercise to direct mine hunting tasks for U.S. and JMSDF ships. This training allowed all of the units to practice communicating and operating in a combined environment and learn to maximize their cumulative mine hunting capability.

The purpose of the training is to further enhance the interoperability of the U.S. and Japanese mine warfare forces and to improve the skills of mine warfare,” said Japanese Rear Adm. Fukuda Tatsuya, Commander Mine Warfare Force.

JMSDF units will include Mine Warfare Force (MWF) and 19 ships including minesweeper tender, minesweeper ocean, minesweeper coastal and minesweeping controller ships. Additionally, they will include three mine countermeasures helicopters (MCH) 101 participating.

Participating U.S. Forces include staff from COMCMRON 7, USS Patriot, Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, Detachment 2A, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures Company 1-1. Approximately 120 U.S. personnel are scheduled to participate.

COMCMRON 7 is forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan, and consists of USS Patriot, USS Pioneer (MCM 9), USS Warrior (MCM 10), and USS Chief (MCM 14) in Sasebo and Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, Detachment 2A.