YOKOSUKA, Japan -- U.S. 7th Fleet Enforcement Coordination Cell (ECC) leadership recently visited with partner nations and embarked the French Navy ship, FS Tonnerre (L9014), part of the Jeanne d’Arc Task Group, in the vicinity of Sasebo, Japan.
ECC is a multinational coalition including the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Japan and France with Germany as a recent addition. The Group enforces maritime sanctions as defined by United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCR).
Part of the ECC’s mission enforces UNSCR 2375 and 2397, both adopted in 2017, against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). UNSCR 2375 introduced a full ban on the supply, sale or transfer of all condensates and natural gas liquids to the DPRK after conducting their sixth nuclear test September 3, 2017. UNSCR 2397 was enacted to strengthen the measures regarding the supply, sale or transfer of all refined petroleum products to the DPRK. These measures are taken to persuade DPRK to end its nuclear program.
Capt. James J. Mehail, U.S. 7th Fleet’s ECC Director, joined Tonnerre, at sea, by a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) rigid hull inflatable boat operated by JMSDF and accompanied by French Foreign Legion personnel.
During the visit, Mehail met with the Tonnerre’s leadership along with leadership from Commander, Amphibious Force, 7th Fleet (CTF 76), the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), as well as maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft detachments from both U.S. (VP-45) and New Zealand (Operation WHIO Rotation 21/1) forward-deployed to Kadena airbase, Japan.
“Meeting with the leaders of these commands, their personnel and viewing their assets in person further communicates the resolve that the United States and our partner nations have towards the ECC mission,” said Mehail. “Face-to-face interaction allows for very candid communication where the crew can actually ask questions.”
While underway aboard Tonnerre, Mehail also had the opportunity to tour the ship, observe helicopter operations, and attend a mission brief, all in support of the ECC.
“Military professionals take pride in what they do, so to have a senior officer observe their operations in person contributes to boosting morale and increases their confidence regarding the importance of the mission,” said Mehail. “The success of the ECC mission lies within the efforts of personnel that aren’t always highly visible to others”
Cmdr. Nicolas, a French Navy liaison officer (LNO) for 7th Fleet ECC, explained the purpose of the visit was to strengthen ties between ECC leadership and the crew.
“The idea was to really integrate ECC in the Indo-Pacific region and improve the dialogue between the director and crew and to reinforce this international mechanism which has driven the ECC and, within a single trip, see the three nations involved with ECC,” said Nicolas.
“The night before my French LNO and I disembarked, we were approached by the ship’s baker,” Mehail said. “He said, ‘I would like to send you away with a gift. What would you like?’ I told him I would like French baguettes. I left with five nicely wrapped baguettes the next day. On one of the baguettes, he had baked-in the words ‘U.S. Navy L9014,’ the hull number of the Tonnerre.”
Mehail expressed his thanks to the commands and partner nations that hosted him during his trip.
“The mission succeeds because of the LNOs and the forces that are here and the heart that they have invested in it,” said Mehail. “The commitment is out there, not just in the leadership but all the way throughout the command’s personnel.”
Under Commander, U. S. Pacific Fleet, 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.