(Kanagawa Shimbun: February 18, 2016 – p. 17)
A Japan-U.S. joint drill was conducted on Feb. 17 at a quake-resistant berth in Minato Mirai 21 (MM21) in Yokohama City with a scenario involving the crash of a U.S. military aircraft. The drill was conducted based on the guidelines jointly drawn up by both the Japanese and the U.S. governments. This was the first time for such a joint drill to be conducted outside U.S. military bases. In the scenario a U.S. military helicopter bursts into flame after making an emergency landing in a seaside park, causing many casualties. About 240 people from the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Headquarters, the U.S. military, the Defense Ministry, the Japan Coast Guard (JCG), local municipalities, and medical institutions participated in the drill.
As police teams rescued and transported the injured, U.S. military and the Yokohama City firefighters doused a mockup helicopter from water cannons. A command post was set up at the site where the U.S. military, the fire department, and the police reported on damage and their operations. A restricted area was also set up. A prefectural police helicopter flying over the area transmitted images to the command post.
The scenario included an incident in which debris from the helicopter struck a nearby vessel, causing crewmen to be thrown into the ocean. The police and the JCG conducted a search-and- rescue operation by boats and helicopter, rescuing three people.
“It is important that each organization recognizes its responsibility based on the guidelines,” said Toshifumi Aoyama, the crisis management chief of the prefectural police, after the drill. Howard Samuelson, chief of public affairs at the U.S. Navy Atsugi Base, said: “We will need to conduct drills at many different locations in preparation for accidents. It is important to review the drill to identify room for improvement.”