BUSAN, South Korea, Oct. 17, 2017 — Maritime forces from the United States and South Korea, together with personnel from United Nations Command Sending State nations, began a multinational mine warfare exercise in waters off South Korea's eastern coast Oct. 15.
The mine countermeasures ship USS Chief left here after a short visit to join other participants. Integration procedures began to ensure all exercise participants can work together, officials said.
Over the next week, mine countermeasure ships, aircraft and explosive ordnance personnel will conduct a series of drills meant to practice procedures and tactics to detect and neutralize sea mines to create safe navigation routes. The evolutions are meant to provide increased mine countermeasure interoperability and readiness to respond to a contingency on the Korean Peninsula, officials explained.
"This exercise is an incredible opportunity for our [mine countermeasure] forces and our staff to conduct complex mine countermeasure operations with our much-valued allies and friends in support of the Republic of Korea navy and other nations committed to defending the Korean Peninsula," said Navy Capt. Jim Miller, commodore of Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7, whose staff will participate in the exercise from Chinhae, South Korea.
Exercise Follows Symposium
Leading up to the exercise, U.S. Naval Forces Korea and the South Korean navy hosted their fourth annual Mine Countermeasures Symposium at the Republic of Korea Fleet Headquarters here Oct. 12-14. The three-day-long exchange was designed to enhance mine countermeasure coordination, training and cooperation and to improve capabilities in mine countermeasures operations.
The relationship between the U.S. and South Korean navies is stronger than it ever has been, said Navy Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of Naval Forces Korea.
"Together, our navies work to strengthen the alliance and relationships we have with the UNC Sending States through engagements like the symposium that highlight cooperation and interoperability, Cooper said."
In attendance at the symposium were representatives from nine UNC Sending States: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The UNC Sending States representatives also will observe portions of the exercise.
Participating nations contributing forces to exercise include Canada, the Philippines, South Korea and the United States.