SHIMODA, Japan –
Sailors assigned to the Arleigh-burke class guided-missile destroyers USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and USS Mustin (DDG 89) joined the city of Shimoda, Japan in the 75th annual Black Ship Festival celebration May 15-19.
“This celebration is very important and becoming more important each year as our partnership with Japan is tightening and getting stronger,” said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet. “This celebrates that 160 years ago, the U.S. Navy came here to introduce the West to Japan and begin to understand Japan in the West. The celebration of this opening between our countries really reflects our constant strong bond that has developed between the U.S. and Japan and the friendship that truly exists between our peoples. This reflects the U.S. commitment to peace and prosperity in Asia.”
The “Black Ships,” or “Kurofune,” refers to the Japanese term for foreign ships, which were mostly excluded from Japan for two hundred years until 1854 upon the arrival of Commodore Mathew C. Perry and the negotiation of the Treaty of Amity, the first treaty between the United States and Japan, thus ending two centuries of Japanese isolationism. The Black Ship Festival celebrates the signing of the treaty, which brought the two countries together as trading partners.
As the U.S. Navy representatives to the Black Ship Festival, the near 600 officers and crew stationed aboard the two ships took to the city upon arrival experiencing the local culture while participating in various goodwill events including visits to six local schools to interact with students and faculty. Sailors also marched through downtown Shimoda during a parade and participated in sporting events with local citizens.
“The city of Shimoda is fantastic,” said Rear Adm. Terry Kraft, commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Japan. “This is the 75th anniversary of the Black Ship Festival here and they really pull out all the stops. The real friendship that we feel here in Shimoda is like nowhere I’ve ever seen before. Celebrations like this are so important because the help us better understand the Japanese culture and really get a deep appreciation for the people of our host nation.”
John S. McCain and Mustin are two of seven Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15, forward deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations supporting security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.