US Navy Hosts Tri-lateral SAREX with Korean and Japanese Sailors

Naval Calendar 2009

Naval Calendar 2009

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Guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) hosted a tri-lateral search and rescue exercise (SAREX) Aug. 5 alongside Coast Guard cutter Kittiwake, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF) destroyer JS Haruna (DDH 141) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) destroyer ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH 976).

The exercise was held to enhance tri-lateral security cooperation between the Navy, Coast Guard, the ROK and the JMSDF militaries.

“This showed that we can continue to work together with ROK & JMSDF and cooperate in a mariner’s tradition of saving people who are at distress at sea,” said Capt. Ron Boxall, Lake Erie’s commanding officer.

During the exercise, Lake Erie, Haruna and Munmu the Great combined forces using their air and sea-based craft to provide Kittiwake, simulating as a distressed vessel, with medical and engineering assistance.

Lake Erie was first to respond to the scene, acting as on-scene coordinator, fighting a simulated fire aboard Kittiwake and providing medical assistance to two personnel with ROK Sailors from Munmu the Great.

At the same time, Japanese Sailors fought an additional simulated fire from their small boat approximately 100 feet away from Kittiwake.

As on-scene leader, Chief Damage Controlman (SW) Derrick Hays was responsible for the vessel and its personnel aboard along with the coordination between the three ships.

“The most important thing was all the ships working together,” said Hays. “If we can work together, we can take care of more of the ocean. Knowing how we each do business can help us all enormously.”

Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Apollos Stanek was one of the Sailors who worked alongside the ROK Sailors and was proud to see the nations working together for a common purpose.

“The language barrier was a little difficult, but once everything was understood everything fell together nicely,” said Stanek. “Any chance for foreign relations is always a good idea because it helps us work smoothly in order to get the job done.”

Following the recent completion of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2008, the exercise served as a last training exercise before the two visiting nations departed across the Pacific Ocean and back to their homes.

“Just like we did during RIMPAC, we worked together with our allies and the results were excellent,” said Boxall. “If there’s someone in distress on the high seas, I’m absolutely convinced that any of us either individually or collectively could save them.”

Michael Lantron (NNS)

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