SINGAPORE -- The U.S. Navy routinely conducts cooperative underway replenishments with partner nations throughout the 7th Fleet area of operations and one of the closest of those partners is the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
When it comes to planning and executing combined replenishment operations in the Indo-Pacific, the U.S. and JMSDF have a unique advantage. Since September, JMSDF Lt. Cmdr. Shuzo Homma has been filling the newly created position of liaison officer (LNO) at Logistics Group Western Pacific (COMLOG WESTPAC) / Task Force 73 (CTF 73), working directly with the staff’s replenishment officer to help enhance interchangeability and combined logistics operations.
Since Homma’s arrival, he and the replenishment officer have coordinated with Military Sealift Command Far East to execute seven underway replenishments involving approximately fifteen Military Sealift Command and JMSDF ships.
According to Homma, the presence of a JMSDF LNO at CTF 73 benefits both navies.
“If we can achieve more-advanced and interchangeable logistics in the areas where both the U.S. Navy and JMSDF operate, we can achieve better efficiencies in the use of our CLF [combat logistics force] assets and extend our ability to support units further from logistics hubs,” said Homma.
Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander of COMLOG WESTPAC/CTF 73, said the LNO program was so successful because it built on a long-standing partnership.
“This program reflects the trust we place in partners at every level,” said Tynch. “It was only a short time ago, on board JS Kaga, we talked about the LNO program with Admiral Yamamura. Lt. Cmdr. Homma and our JMSDF partners turned this idea into a reality. The day Shuzo Homma joined our team, we all grew stronger.”
Capt. Chuck Dwy, assistant chief of staff for logistics at COMLOG WESTPAC, was instrumental in developing the LNO program.
“Logistics win wars,” said Dwy. “Interoperable and interchangeable logistics require trust – We can move fuel and parts with speed, but only as far and fast as our network can take us. This partnership builds the collective strength, speed and operational reach of our supply chains. Ensuring both Fleets are Sustained and Ready to Fight!”
Replenishment operations involve refueling at sea and the delivery of provisions via connected or vertical replenishments. According to Homma, a replenishment-at-sea (RAS) between the JMSDF Masyuu-class supply ship JS Oumi (AOE 426) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) stands out as an example of what the two navies have been able to accomplish during his time at CTF 73.
“That was the first RAS that delivered cargo and fuel to a U.S. ship that was engaged in operations from a JMSDF oiler,” said Homma. “In order to accomplish this event, we needed to work on both operational and legal issues related to ACSA (Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement),” said Homma. “We were able to load U.S. supply parts and U.S. subsistence on a JMSDF logistics ship and deliver them during a RAS event. This is a process that could take weeks and we did it in days.”
Dwy and Homma agree the event could not have been arranged so quickly and efficiently without the support of an LNO.
The positioning of a JMSDF LNO at CTF 73 is a combined U.S. Pacific Fleet/JMSDF effort developed by the JMSDF/U.S. Navy Logistics Interoperability and Integration Strategic Framework. The goal is to build better interoperability and interchangeable logistics between JMSDF and U.S. Navy forces in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
“Our combined logistics capabilities play a big role in our navies’ abilities to operate effectively, efficiently and interchangeably in the Indo-Pacific,” said Lt. Cmdr. Cory Eggers, CTF 73’s fleet replenishment officer. “Having a JMSDF LNO here in Singapore and being able to work together, in person, to put the pieces together and overcome logistical challenges has absolutely enhanced our efforts.”
Homma has been personally involved with the COMLOG WESTPAC LNO initiative since planning began.
“I have been working on this for almost two years by removing obstacles interfering with the project,” said Homma. “During that time, I came to recognize the importance and potential of this position for both the U.S. Navy and the JMSDF. I then volunteered to be the first long-term LNO to complete the start-up phase of the program.”
Homma said the future LNOs have a great opportunity to look forward to.
“It’s been a rewarding experience for me, having spent so much time with the program,” said Homma. “I’m pleased we were able to get things up and running and to do it with the success we have had. I look forward to seeing how the program advances in the future and the positive impact it will have on our partnership.”
Dwy said Homma has been a valuable member of the team and an outstanding representative of his nation’s service.
“Lt. Cmdr. Homma has met and exceeded any expectations we could set for an LNO,” said Dwy. “His expert knowledge and can-do attitude have benefited everyone who has had the chance to work with him.”
COMLOG WESTPAC is the U.S. 7th Fleet's provider of combat-ready logistics, operating government-owned and contracted ships to keep units throughout 7th Fleet armed, fueled and fed.