U.S., Japanese Commanders Observe F-35B Operations from USS Wasp

February 4, 2019 – The Commander of U.S. 7th Fleet (C7F) and Commander in Chief of Self Defense Fleet, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), visited the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) Feb. 5 to observe the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) operations at sea.

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer and Vice Adm. Kazuki Yamashita were joined by other senior JSDF officers to showcase Wasp ARG’s amphibious capabilities, including operations by 31st MEU F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

“It’s great getting out to sea with my counterpart, Vice Adm. Yamashita.” Sawyer said. “Our forces work together closely every day and I look forward to seeing that partnership expand with new capabilities, like F-35B.”

The JSDF has been working with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to develop greater amphibious capabilities as part of the newly-established Japan Ground Self Defense Force, Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB).

“I am thankful again for the opportunity to observe USS Wasp and her equipment with the consideration of Vice Adm. Sawyer, C7F.” Yamashita said. “JMSDF and the 7th Fleet are always pursuing deepening joint [interactions] at all levels. Recently, we have received great support from the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps for improving our Amphibious Operation capability. We continue to implement various missions and exercises with the 7th Fleet for the sake of peace, independence and stability of the region by making it the principle to ‘the Strength, Readiness’ and ‘Always preparing ourselves as if we were on the battlefield.’”

While aboard Sawyer and Yamashita met with Wasp ARG leaders, received briefs about amphibious capabilities and observed flight operations by 31st MEU F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

The Wasp ARG, 31st MEU team is a mobile and lethal force capable of multiple mission areas including non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, visit board search and seizure, tactical aircraft recovery and full amphibious warfare.

Wasp, flagship of the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency.