By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Bill Dodge, USS Stout (DDG 55) Public Affairs
ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Ships assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 joined the People's Republic of China's People's Liberation Army-Navy [PLA(N)] Nov. 7 to conduct a group sail and passing exercise (PASSEX) off the coast of Florida.
This is the first PLA(N) ship visit to Florida. The three ships; Jiangkai II-class frigate Yiyang (FFG 548), the Luyang II-class destroyer Jinan (DDG 152); and the Fuchi-class oiler Qindaohu (AOR 8860), are on an around-the-world deployment most recently completing port calls in Europe.
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Stout (DDG 55) and USS Mason (DDG 87) with the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) practiced maneuvering in formation alongside the three PLA(N) ships.
During the exercise, officers from both nations participated in an exchange program between ships to help build trust and foster shared understanding.
"The purpose of this exercise was to foster international maritime cooperation between our Navies," said Lt. j.g. Lisa Lacross, assistant operations officer of Stout and officer of the deck for the exercise. "The PASSEX was executed well by all parties involved and allowed us to demonstrate a variety of seamanship skills."
This PASSEX helps develop understanding between the two naval forces and benefits both countries' readiness for future operations.
"What a unique opportunity to conduct a PASSEX with the Chinese Navy as part of our own routine training off the coast of Florida, "said Capt. Brian Fort, DESRON 26 Commodore. "The Sailors aboard Mason, Monterey and Stout will be able to tell their family and friends that they did something that was a first. I also hope it's not a last, and that we continue these opportunities to work together as professional mariners, respecting each other in mil-to-mil exchanges at sea."
Prior to setting their departing courses, all ships hoisted flags to signal, "Thank you very much for your cooperation. I wish you a pleasant voyage."
DESRON 26 is on a routine group sail along the east coast of the United States, preparing for an upcoming deployment in 2016.