NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan -- Aircrews from the “Saberhawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 conducted anti-submarine warfare (ASW) torpedo training in Sagami Bay, April 13.
This training was the second time the U.S. Navy launched an inert training torpedo with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) into Japanese waters.
Prior to last year’s event, every torpedo exercise conducted by a forward-deployed squadron was conducted in San Diego. The benefit of this particular ASW exercise is that the forward-deployed squadron was able to practice within the region they operate in, while also strengthening bilateral capabilities between the U.S. Navy and JMSDF. The aim is for this exercise to continue an annual event.
"HSM-77 is proud to take part in high-end warfighting integration efforts with our JMSDF counterparts,” said Lt. Cmdr. Eric Hodina, HSM-77 operations officer. “These exercises allow us to improve our coordinated-ASW proficiency and enhance joint-warfighting capabilities."
The exercise involved an inert torpedo being launched from an MH-60R Seahawk, attached to HSM-77. The torpedo was recovered by a small boat team from the JMSDF Futami-class research ship JS Wakasa (AGS 5104). An SH-60K, assigned to JMSDF Air Development Squadron (VX-51), provided range clearance and translated the communications.
HSM-77 is forward-deployed to Naval Air Facility Atsugi and embarks aboard multiple ships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
VX-51 is a squadron in the Fleet Air Force of the JMSDF based in Atsugi, Japan. This event builds on the first of its kind bilateral Anti-Submarine Warfare tracking exercise that HSM-51 and VX-51 flew together in October.
U.S. 7th Fleet exercises operational control of its units through designated Task Forces or Task Groups. These groups are organized along domain and functional lines. CTF 70 is theater strike warfare commander and theater air and missile defense commander.
CTF 70 is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.