By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jacob Holloway, USS America (LHA 6) Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) began hosting Japanese Sailors Aug. 17 as they prepare for the annual amphibious assault training exercise Dawn Blitz 2015 (DB 15) in early September.
DB 15 is an annual multinational, scenario-driven amphibious training exercise in which forces plan and execute an expeditionary strike group and Marine expeditionary brigade-sized amphibious assault from the sea in a maritime and land environment .
The training exercise includes four participating nations and four other nations as observers. There are more than 25 commands participating in the exercise in all.
While the Japanese ships participate in DB 15, America will sponsor one of the ships from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181). America will work to facilitate all the needs of the ship and its personnel during their stay on Naval Base San Diego (NBSD). Additionally, the crews will participate in goodwill events.
"Our mission is to have our crew interact with their crew on a personal level to facilitate understanding amongst our navies and cultures," said Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Franklin, a liaison assigned to America. "Through social events and sporting activities we hope to gain their friendship and create a bond with them as our counterpart."
Sailors from each country have had the opportunity to experience the similarities and differences in cultures by touring each other's ships.
"Both commanding officers have welcomed the crew of the other ships to tour their vessels," said Franklin. "This is a good opportunity to compare and contrast our capabilities of our ship and have our crew see that."
Port visits and training exercises are vital in maintaining a professional military bond between the two country's navies. These interactions help Sailors connect on a professional and personal level and allow both navies to interact on and off duty.
"Working with America Sailors during Hyuga's time in port San Diego has truly strengthened the alliance between Japan and the United States," said Capt. Taskeshi Okada, commanding officer of the Hyuga. "The America has been a great host and we have learned a lot about daily operations of America."
America's initial interaction as Japan's host was to help them moor. America's Deck department awaited the arrival of the Hyuga and assisted them in mooring to the pier at NBSD on Monday, Aug. 17.
"Even though there was a language barrier, we were able to get the job done," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Tiago Campos, Deck department's leading petty officer. "The understanding we have between Sailors is incredible."
The United States of America is regarded as a 'melting pot' of cultures, better enabling fluid exchange and understanding of nations around the world. The crew of USS America strives to exemplify that same standard in connecting with other countries.
"Being a host ship is a responsibility to represent America, both the ship and the country, with the best Sailors our country has to offer," said Franklin. "We want to leave the best impression of our country through our interactions with them."