HMS Daring spent two days in company with one of Japan’s most advanced warship as two of the world’s leading navies joined forces in the Gulf of Aden.
Just weeks ago, the heads of the RN and Japanese Maritime Defence Force signed an agreement committed to working more closely together, an opportunity presented when the Portsmouth warship encountered the Suzutsuki.
Crew of the new Japanese destroyer JS Suzutsuki line the forecastle to bid farewell to the British Type 45 after a couple of days of combined training in the Gulf of Aden.
Having safeguarded shipping – merchant and military – through the narrows of the Bab al Mandeb to counter the threat of anti-ship missiles in the hands of rebels in neighbouring Yemen in recent weeks, Daring’s focus shifted to counter-terrorism/smuggling/piracy in the troubled waters between Yemen and Somali.
She’s assigned to Combined Task Force 150, an international force of warships drawn from around half a dozen nations committed to maritime security and ensuring the safe passage of international shipping in the Indian Ocean.
The ships of the task force typically work independently – but with the common goal of stopping drugs, people or weapons being smuggled, or merchant ships being seized.
The rare link-up between the two destroyers afforded a two-day break from the routine of prowling hundreds of miles of ocean.
Sailors from the two ships traded places to experience life aboard the respective vessels for what the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force – the official title of Japan’s Navy – called “mutual understanding with the British Navy and deepening of friendship”.
“It was a real privilege to work with our Japanese counterparts, even for a brief time,” said Commander Philip Dennis, the Commanding Officer of HMS Daring.
“It was an opportunity to prove that we can work together and also a chance to make new friends and colleagues while serving at sea on this vital task protecting Britain’s economy.
“Our two navies have a history going back over a century, so it was an honour to continue that tradition with these two state-of-the-art warships.”
Fighter controller Lt Natalie Burns, Daring's CO Cdr Phil Dennis, and Capt Minami, in charge of the Suzutsuki, on the bridge wing of the Japanese vessel
Bridge teams practised some joint manoeuvring, communications teams made sure Daring and Suzutsuki – Japanese for ‘clear moon’ – could talk to each other over the airwaves (English being the common language used), before the Japanese launched their version of the Blackhawk helicopter to record the movements of the two warships on camera.
Portsmouth-based HMS Daring, which is designed to protect task forces from air attack, while Akizuki class provide an all-round shield against air, surface and submarine threats, worked briefly with Suzutsuki’s older sister Teruzuki after providing assistance to the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan back in 2013.
The latest combined training comes just weeks after an agreement was signed by the leaders of the Royal, US and Japanese Navies to work together ever more closely.