Japanese Ship Takanami, working in direct support of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) counter-piracy task force CTF-151, has undertaken a joint exercise with NATO’s counter-piracy flagship, the Danish Ship HDMS Esbern Snare, for the first time.
JS Takanami hosted a visit by Commodore Aage Buur Jensen, the Commander of NATO’s counter-piracy Task Force 508, and his staff on 24th September. The visit included a discussion forum with key members from both Ships’ Companies and a tour of HDMS Esbern Snare for the Japanese officers.
Following a series of plenary sessions and a productive working lunch, over which the representatives discussed how each task force conducts counter-piracy operations, the Danish officers returned to HDMS Esbern Snare so the ships could conduct exercises to test how well they could work together in a joint mission.
The exercise began with a test of the ships’ ability to communicate with each other before the two Navigating Officers piloted the ships in close proximity. This led smoothly into a joint boarding exercise, with Takanami’s boarding team carrying out stop and search procedures.
Commodore Aage Buur Jensen, who has previously commanded CTF-151, said:
“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).”
Captain Tsutomo ‘Tom’ Okawa, Commander of Escort Division Six on-board JS Takanami, said:
“This was the first comprehensive exercise between NATO and JMSDF and established that NATO and the JMSDF can work together on counter-piracy operations and boarding operations. It was a valuable opportunity to train and learn from each other, we would like to plan another exercise in the near future.”
Commander of CTF-151, Commodore Tony Millar, MNZM, of the Royal New Zealand Navy is very pleased with the outcome of the exercise, especially enhancing the interoperability of CMF units with NATO. He said:
“Piracy is an international threat that requires an international response. This joint CMF and NATO exercise is an example of professionals coming together for the wider benefit of the region and I thank Commodore Jensen for engaging with CTF-151.”
CTF-151 is a multinational task force which conducts counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. The aim is to deter, disrupt and prevent acts of piracy. CTF 151 operates in an area of international waters of more than 1.1 million square miles (2.5 million square kilometres), roughly the size of the Mediterranean and Red Seas combined.