VP-1 hosts Japanese P-3 squadron

(From VP-1 PAO)

Patrol Squadron ONE returned from a 7th Fleet deployment on Aug. 2, 2004, and began hosting Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Detachment 39 (JMSDF VP DET 39) during their NAS Whidbey Island visit to enhance interoperability between the JMSDF and U.S. Navy. The detachment is comprised of 162 personnel with eight aircraft and crews from various P-3C squadrons throughout Japan.

JMSDF DET 39 recently concluded a successful Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2004 exercise in Hawaii and they're making Whidbey their final stop prior to returning to Japan. The visit constitutes an annual exercise that continues a long-term partnership of maritime excellence. This year's visit includes several bilateral anti-submarine warfare (ASW) events involving multiple P-3s coordinating operations.

Leading the JMSDF detachment is Capt. Shinobu Nakamura. He's the commanding officer of JMSDF Patrol Squadron 5, the "Pegasus," based in Okinawa, Japan.

The JMSDF seven-day visit to the Pacific Northwest has a full schedule of military and community activities planned providing valuable training in both military exercises and international relations. The detachment's enthusiastic participation in this bilateral training not only breaks cultural barriers, but also continues to enhance already strong ties between Japan and the United States.

The visit began with a welcome aboard seminar for the Japanese squadron that included safety precautions, a course rules brief and some morale, welfare and recreation information. Nakamura was personally welcomed by Capt. Timothy Tibbits, commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 10; Capt. Stephen P. Black, commanding officer of NAS Whidbey Island; Cmdr. Leon R. Bacon, commanding officer of VP-1 and Cmdr. Joseph K. Sullivan, commanding officer of VQ-1.

DET 39 members were escorted on a tour of the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Detachment and a VP-1 modified aircraft static display. These familiarization tours provide insight into how the U.S. Navy's VP squadrons do business.

VP-1 and DET 39 conducted two days of multi-aircraft ASW prosecutions on expendable mobile acoustic tactical trainers (EMATT) with each aircrew comprised of a combination of both Japanese and American Sailors. The Japanese also flew seven different local area flights with VP-1 pilots on board for familiarization and ease of communications. The multiple training events shared between our two nations provided crucial and enlightening training for both services.

In addition to the opportunity to fly and train together, the visit allowed both the JMSDF and VP-1 to interact at several social functions, including a picnic at Cliffside Park and a JMSDF hosted social replete with traditional Japanese food and drink.

A golf tournament and bowling competition allowed additional time for everyone to get to know each other. Many of the Japanese crew claim golf as their favorite liberty activity while in the U.S.

Before departing on Aug. 9, the group ventured to downtown Seattle to round out their stay in the Pacific Northwest.