SAN DIEGO — The United States Coast Guard recently completed a successful search and rescue exercise (SAREX) with the Japan Coast Guard’s training vessel Kojima off the coast of San Diego. The joint operation, part of Operation Sapphire, aimed to strengthen relationships, enhance bilateral engagements, and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Operation Sapphire, established in 2022 through a memorandum of cooperation between the U.S. and Japan Coast Guards, focuses on maintaining maritime security and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific area. The SAREX marks another step in the ongoing collaboration between the two coast guards.

The U.S. Coast Guard deployed several assets for the exercise, including the Coast Guard Cutter Robert Ward, a 154-foot fast response cutter based in Los Angeles/Long Beach. Additionally, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Sector San Diego, a C-27 Spartan aircraft from Air Station Sacramento, and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Station San Diego were utilized. The Japan Coast Guard participated with their 377-foot Coast Guard Cadet training ship, the Kojima.

During the exercise, the small boats from both coast guards conducted multiple approaches to the Kojima and the Robert Ward, simulating rescue scenarios. The helicopter aircrew also performed basket hoists with the Kojima, further demonstrating the joint proficiency and coordination between the two forces.

The Kojima, under the command of Captain Takahashi Kuniaki, is currently on a 101-day deep-sea training voyage for officer candidates who graduated from the Japan Coast Guard Academy in March. The vessel recently made a port call in San Francisco on May 9 and subsequently toured the facilities of the Coast Guard Pacific Area on Coast Guard Island.

Weighing 3,000 metric tons and measuring 377 feet in length, the Kojima is capable of reaching speeds of up to 18 nautical miles per hour. It is homeported in Kure, Hiroshima, Japan.

The successful completion of the search and rescue exercise underscores the commitment of both the U.S. and Japan Coast Guards to ensuring safety and security at sea. Such joint operations not only enhance bilateral cooperation but also contribute to maintaining stability and fostering a secure maritime environment in the Indo-Pacific region.

By Joshi

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