Two of the world’s major navies joined forces off the Dorset coast as long-time allies Britain and Japan reaffirmed their friendship.
Patrol ship HMS Mersey and survey vessel HMS Enterprise linked up with Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force ships Kashima, which trains officer cadets, and general-purpose destroyer Shimakaze off Portland Bill.
The two Japanese ships are on Overseas Training Cruise 2022, sailing half-way around the world, training with friendly and allied navies on the way.
The duo have already worked with Britain’s biggest warship, aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales, as she led NATO exercises off the Spanish coast.
Yesterday’s link-up focused on the ability to communicate and orchestrate the coordinated movements of the warships in close proximity.
The four ships had hoped to exchange sailors for the four hours of combined training for a brief taste of life aboard each other’s vessels, but bad weather ruled out the boat transfer.
“It was a pleasure being able to train with the Japanese Self Defence Force as they operated in the UK waters,” said Lieutenant Commander Nicholas Radue, HMS Mersey’s Executive Officer.
“Exercises like these not only provide excellent training opportunities for our respective Fleets but also strengthen the bond between our two countries. We wish the Japanese Self Defence Force fair winds and following seas in the rest of their deployment.”
The Japanese force has now split up; the Shimakaze arrives in Portsmouth today for a five-day visit, while the Kashima enjoys a prime berth on the Thames alongside HMS Belfast and opposite the Tower of London from tomorrow until Saturday as she calls on the capital.
The pair will link up with the Royal Navy again for further exercises upon sailing at the weekend, this time with HMS Severn, the Fleet’s dedicated specialist navigation training ship.
A spokesman for the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force said the training cruise visit to the UK was a direct result of last year’s deployment of the UK Carrier Strike Group to the Indo-Pacific, which saw flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth call on Yokosuka, near Tokyo.
“Defence cooperation between Japan and the UK – which has a long history and tradition – evolved to a ‘new level’ last year with the UK Carrier Strike Group visiting Japan,” he added.
“Japan-UK defence cooperation contributes not only to the security of Japan, but to ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and the international community, as well as addressing global challenges.”
The Royal Navy has increased its presence in the Pacific in recent years, most visibly with last year’s carrier strike group deployment and committing patrol ships HMS Tamar and Spey to the region for the next five years.