Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The USS John S. McCain joined a multinational exercise in the Philippine Sea with French and Japanese ships, the U. S. Navy 7th Fleet announced.
The exercise included the French Navy's nuclear-powered submarine Emeraude, Loire-class support and assistance vessel Seine, and the helicopter-carrying destroyer JS Hyūga of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
The exercises focused on anti-submarine warfare tactics among the three navies, a 7th Fleet statement on Friday said.
"Anti-submarine warfare is a cornerstone in surface Navy operations," said Lt. Ryan Mati, weapons officer of the USS John S. McCain.
"This exercise will not only allow us to continue strengthening our warfighting readiness with a long-standing ally, it'll also impart a unique experience for the crew.
"To be able to operate with a partner nation's submarine is a rare opportunity which will further enhance our tactical mindset and allow us to execute some of the best training in this warfare area."
The U. S. ship conducted several multinational exercises in 2020, including a mission with the Australian Navy in the South China Sea, and the annual Malabar exercise in the Bay of Bengal this year that involved Australia, India and Japan.
French and U.S. counterparts rarely are involved together in an exercise, the 7th Fleet statement noted, although the French submarine trained with the submarine USS Ashville off the coast of Guam earlier in December.
Last week's exercise was also the first time the Japanese forces worked with the French submarine.
"The willingness of both the U.S. Navy and JMSDF to conduct anti-surface and anti-submarine exercises with us is a positive example of the cooperative relationship our navies enjoy," the commanding officer of FS SSN Emeraude said.