Combined logistics planning by the French Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the U.S. Navy culminated in ships from each country exercising its ability to sustain each other at sea.
Throughout May, the French Navy’s Jeanne d’Arc amphibious task group conducted replenishments-at-sea with the U.S. Navy and JMSDF in separate events that the three countries planned together.
The continued importance of interchangeable logistics for all three nations and the support of multinational planners coordinating replenishments are increasing the reach, speed and reliability of each of these partners’ sustainability.
On May 19, the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198) conducted a replenishment-at-sea with the French Navy amphibious assault ship FS Tonnerre (L 9014) in the Philippine Sea. Earlier this month, on May 4, the JMSDF replenishment ship JS Masyuu (AOE 425) conducted a replenishment-at-sea with the French Navy frigate FS Surcouf (F 711) also in the Philippine Sea.
“Replenishment at sea (RAS) is a maneuver of special interest for our Navy assets operating in the Indo-Pacific,” said French Navy Rear Adm. Jean-Mathieu Rey, Joint Commander French Armed Forces, in Asia-Pacific.
“First, it highlights the excellent level of tactical interoperability between partners, as RAS is a complex maritime operation, requiring perfect seamanship training and technical coordination. Then, it allows our respective naval forces to operate durably at sea, without the constraint of replenishment port visits. Today, in the specific context of the current pandemic, whereas access to some harbor is denied to our Navy ship, this capacity is of first importance.”
U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander of Logistics Group Western Pacific (COMLOG WESTPAC) / Task Force (CTF) 73, who oversees the Navy’s regional logistic and maintenance missions, believes working together with friends, partners, and allies is an important investment in these relationships.
“In a time of need, we can surge the material, the ships, the aircraft,” said Tynch. “But what we can’t surge – is trust.”
Tactical interoperability built on trust is strengthened through allied representatives who work closely with Tynch’s logistics staff.
French Navy Cmdr. Jérémy Bachelier and JMSDF Lt. Cmdr. Yoko Ukegawa, played a critical role ensuring the interchangeability of sustainment operations between the French Navy, JMSDF and U.S. Navy ships.
Ukegawa, the JMSDF liaison officer at COMLOG WESTPAC / CTF 73, works side-by-side with the U.S. combat logistics officers, making the seamless scheduling of underway replenishments a more efficient process. The combined coordination also improves the common understanding of tactics and procedures, and effective communication during operations.
“I coordinated on the planning of RAS by closely working together with the representatives from partner navies,” said Ukegawa. “Although the items to be coordinated were very wide-ranging and complex, but thanks to my like-minded partners, the mission was accomplished successfully.”