- Mine countermeasures ship USS Patriot (MCM 7) pulls into port at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, becoming the first U.S. Navy ship to utilize the air base’s recently built port and harbor facility. While in Iwakuni, crew members of the Sasebo, Japan-based ship will have an opportunity to interact with the local population and Iwakuni-based Japanese Self Defense Force personnel. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam R. Cole
Sasebo, Japan-based minesweepers USS Guardian (MCM 5) and USS Patriot (MCM 7) successfully completed mine sweeping operations with the Republic of Korea Navy
(ROKN) as part of Foal Eagle 2007 on March 30.
The minesweeping component of the exercise included aerial dropping of training mines by an ROKN P-3C Orion and then subsequent hunting and tagging of the mine-like shapes for neutralization by the ROKN and U.S. minesweepers. Also embarked, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5, Detachment 51, conducted EOD-type missions to neutralize the laid mines.
“I was impressed not only with the ship’s ability to handle the challenges of the particular mission at hand but also in working with our ROK counterparts at sea,” said Lt. Cmdr. Thomas E. Shultz, Patriot commanding officer. “This proves that our two forces can operate together and respond together to any type of mine countermeasures-related contingency.”
Patriot and Guardian and ROKN ships used their variable-depth sonar systems to locate the mines within the mock-up minefield. As soon as the mine was located and its location is marked, the ship deployed a mine neutralization vehicle (MNV) that travels underwater with a camera for a close-up look and identification.
The MNV also carries a cutter to cut chain or cable of a moored mine or may attach a small explosive charge next to a mine delivering a small bomb at the bottom of a moored mine, which can be remotely detonated at a safe distance. For this particular exercise, because of weather constraints, the MNV was used purely for detection.
In every exercise which includes foreign counterparts, communication can be a challenge. For this particular exercise, Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Philip K. Joo and Engineman 3rd Class Karam Yun, both of Korean decent, were called upon to interpret voice messages from the other ships.
“It feels great knowing that I could help resolve the communication barriers that came up,” said Joo.
“For me, it is just like back home; our relatives speak Korean and it is a must to know and speak or otherwise you’ll miss a lot of the stories and ideas," added Yun, "Talking Korean with our counterparts comes natural to me. I am looking forward to volunteering to go aboard a Korean ship during the next exercise.”
The two Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships Patriot and USS Guardian (MCM 5) participated in the annual RSOI/FE 07 exercise with the ROK naval forces to increase joint combat readiness. Patriot and Guardian both serve under the Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force (CTF) 76, the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.
By Chief Electricians Mate (SW) Noel B. Corneja, USS Patriot, (MCM 7) Public Affairs Officer