Maritime exercise marks milestone for U.S.-China joint operations

The U.S. and Chinese navies completed a two-day counter-piracy exercise on Aug. 26 designed to enhance security in the Gulf of Aden and surrounding regional waters. Members of the U.S. 5th Fleet said they hoped the joint exercise would encourage future cooperation.

The USS Mason, a guided-missile destroyer, worked alongside the Chinese Navy destroyer Harbin and a replenishment oiler to simulate medical emergencies and hostage scenarios, allowing sailors to practice delivering a coordinated response. The crews also performed synchronized maneuver techniques during a live-fire exercise, landing helicopters on the decks of each other’s ship.

Capt. Joseph Naman, commander of Destroyer Squadron 50 and Task Force 55, called the exercise a “significant milestone.” The exercise was “one of those once-in-a-career experiences,” added Cmdr. D. Wilson Marks, the USS Mason’s commanding officer.

The first joint counter-piracy exercise was conducted near the horn of Africa in 2012 but was more limited in scope and lasted only six hours. “As we have learned in the past, military-to-military engagement pays big dividends, because we operate in the same environment [and] share the same common goals,” Naman said. 

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