Minesweepers set to leave Sasebo for a rare fall patrol
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Minesweepers USS Patriot and USS Guardian are scheduled to depart Sasebo in the upcoming days for a deployment in the Asia-Pacific region.
The fall patrol will last several months and includes stops to various ports, Navy officials said, who would not release destinations or the length of the deployment because of security concerns.
During the deployment, the ships will train with other nations’ militaries and learn to cooperate in situations such as natural disaster relief, officials said.
“The goal there is to build strong ties among our partners in the region to promote stability throughout,” said Capt. Thomas Shultz, commanding officer of the USS Patriot.
The Patriot and its crew were slated to leave Sasebo Thursday and the Guardian is to follow in the near future, said Navy spokesman Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Cole.
Minesweeper patrols do not typically occur in the fall, but Shultz said the Navy saw an opportunity and decided to send the ships out.
Both minesweepers carry about 80 sailors. The wooden hulls of the Avenger-class ships give off a low-magnetic signature to better clear mines from the ocean.
For sailors, the patrol means months of hard work at sea and visits to exotic locales.
The Patriot is turning over about 40 percent of its crew, meaning a lot of training exercises, said Petty Officer 2nd Class John Golden.
“We’ve got all this new blood on board we have to get trained up to do what we’ve got to do,” Golden said.