The U.S. Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) and ships from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Navy) PLA(N) commenced a bilateral counter-piracy exercise, U.S.-China Counter-Piracy Exercise 15, in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa, Dec 11.

Aiming to promote partnership, strength and presence, the exercise includes combined visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations, communication exchanges, and various other aspects of naval operations. 

This exercise represents a long-standing united front toward counter-piracy operations shared by these two world powers. 

“The exercise allows us to address our common regional and global interest,” said Capt. Doug Stuffle, commander, U.S. Navy Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1. “It helps both nations pursue a healthy, stable, reliable and continuous bilateral relationship.” 

Approximately 700 personnel from the U.S. and China navies will participate in the exercise, and it gives Sterett Sailors the opportunity to engage in a shared mission with other surface platforms. 

“Piracy is a long-standing problem, worldwide,” said Cmdr. Theodore Nunamaker, Sterett commanding officer. “It has long been recognized as a problem that requires an international-cooperative solution. Certainly the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR [area of responsibility] is one of the focused points for that effort. Modern-day piracy has a far-reaching economic impact. Although much of the world’s population will never encounter piracy, it has an impact on everyone, by increasing the cost of goods that are being shipped from place to place.”

Stuffle expressed that Sterett’s crew, like all deployed U.S. naval forces, have trained to meet a variety of mission sets that are important to the nation’s interest and stand ready to execute anti-piracy measures when directed.

Both Stuffle and Nunamaker agree the ultimate goal of this exercise is to strengthen military-to-military relationships between the U.S. and its Chinese counter-parts. The U.S. and Chinese navies conducted similar training, Aug. 20-25, 2013.

“These bi-lateral exercises help us establish clear paths for communication; they encourage transparency of trust, help us mitigate risk and allow us to demonstrate cooperative efforts in the international community to help us work together to deal with transnational threats. In the end, we look to create a peaceful, stable and secure maritime domain,” said Stuffle.

Sterett is deployed as part of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and is supporting Operation Inherent Resolve conducting maritime security operations, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.