SASEBO, Japan (Dec. 13, 2011)
- Mr. Takashi Shima, a painter and photographer for over 50 years, visited the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) Tuesday Dec. 13 to deliver a painting of the ship to the commanding officer, Capt. David Fluker, in recognition of its participation in Operation Tomodachi. The water color painting shows Essex at sea during flight operations with several CH-53E Sea Stallions flying overhead.
Shima was inspired after taking a photo of Essex while he was on a tour of the JDS Kongo (DDG 173) and decided that he wanted to paint the ship as a way to express his gratitude.
“I think the Japanese people should thank the American military forces for all the help we received after the earthquake and disaster,” said Shima. “Not all Japanese people are in a position to say thanks enough so I did the painting as my part.”
During Operation Tomodachi, Essex joined USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) for three weeks in assisting Japan with humanitarian relief after a 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the northeastern part of the country on March 11. The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked on Essex distributed supplies by air and sea. There were two hundred and eighteen aircraft and landing craft in support of reconnaissance and relief distribution missions. Additionally, more than 166,000 pounds of supplies were delivered to the shore of Japan by the Essex Amphibious Ready Group.
Capt. David Fluker, commanding officer of Essex, received the painting on behalf of the crew.
“It was a privilege to have Mr. Shima aboard Essex and a true honor to receive this wonderful painting on behalf of Essex crew,” said Fluker. “Mr. Shima’s gift of his beautiful artwork is another example of the mutual respect and natural bond between two great maritime nations. It is symbolic of our friendship with our Japanese partners and indicative of the maritime traditions that we share.”
After being received by the commanding officer in his cabin, Mr. Shima toured the Essex and had a firsthand look at the ship that inspired him to create his piece of art. He stated he was impressed with the multiple capabilities of the Essex and he was pleased, after a closer look, that he represented Essex correctly in his painting.