U.S. Navy, JMSDF Sailors Give Back to Community During 39th Annual Friendship Day
YOKOSUKA, Japan - Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Yokosuka naval base jointly celebrated their 39th annual Friendship Day, Aug. 1.
The two nations concurrently opened their respective bases to the general public to allow an estimated 56,000 visitors to enjoy festivities on the grounds and to come aboard ships and submarines.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) was moored at the Japanese base as thousands of visitors queued for the opportunity to tour the ship and take photos with Sailors.
"The hospitality that they show us while being forward-deployed here in Japan is truly fantastic and a lot of that is showcased today based on being invited over onto the JMSDF base to partake in their Friendship Day,” said Cmdr. Ed Sundberg, commanding officer of McCampbell. “The alliance between the two navies is vital to national interests in the region.”
As Sailors gave back to their Japanese hosts, they felt a sense of camaraderie that can often be forgotten when living in Japan on a day-to-day basis.
"The Japanese people are very friendly and supportive,” said Fire Controlman 2nd Class Timothy Klee, who has participated in a number of Friendship Day celebrations while being assigned to McCampbell for four-and-a-half years. “It's a great experience to be able to interact and talk to them. By providing these tours and experiencing that that unique bond shows how much support we have from the Japanese locals, from the Japanese military… and it fills you with pride.”
CFAY also hosted ship tours aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) and two visiting JMSDF ships, JS Hatsushima (MSC 606) and JS Enshu (AMS 4305).
“Friendship day gives our Japanese neighbors and partners an opportunity to visit the base, experience a little Americana and an opportunity for the families here on base to interact with the families out in town,” said Fleet Activities Deputy Public Affairs Officer Jim O’Donnell. “The commands and tenet commands here on base put out a lot of effort setting up booths and getting ready for this thing, and everyone had a lot of fun as we got to interact with our Japanese hosts.”
The event included a tug-of-war contest, food booths, live music, and concerts by the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet Band.
“I’ve been in the Navy for 33 years now and one of my favorite things to do is Friendship Day”, said Master Chief Fire Controlman Ed Campbell, assigned to Mustin. “I just love hosting the Japanese, talking to them and getting to know them.”
At nightfall the festivities were concluded with a fireworks display over the waterfront.
McCampbell and Mustin are two of seven destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15, and are forward deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.