FUKUOKA, Japan --
Sailors from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) played basketball with students from The Fukuoka Institute of Technology July 19 during a goodwill port visit to Fukuoka.
“No matter what language you speak, sports unite people,” said Seaman Zachary Curato, from Redding, California. “I don’t know Japanese, and a lot of the students don’t know English, but we can still play good basketball.”
The Sailors first played against the students then mixed the teams so that they could play alongside each other.
“It is an honor to be given this opportunity,” said Ryo Imastasto, a student at the school. “I enjoyed playing against, but especially with the Sailors. I will always remember this experience.”
After the games, the school held a reception for the Sailors in the cafeteria featuring Japanese cuisine. During the meal, Sailors presented their hosts with American style snacks and drinks they brought from the ship.
“This was more than I expected,” said Seaman Apprentice Juan Santiago, from Holyoke, Massachusetts. “They really went out of their way to welcome us.”
Fostering diplomatic relations with allies through friendly community interactions in port is part of America's maritime strategy to build a joint coalition force of allies capable of ensuring maritime security.
Fitzgerald is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15, a key element to 7th Fleet, the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with approximately 60 ships, 250 aircraft and 40,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.