Curtis Wilbur Arrives in Shimoda to Participate in 71st Black Ship Festival
SHIMODA, Japan (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), with a crew of approximately 300 Sailors arrived in Shimoda May 14 to participate in the city's 71st annual Black Ship Festival.
The festival commemorates the 156th anniversary of the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry and his fleet ships to Japan in 1854, an event which marked the beginning of diplomacy and trade agreements between the U.S. and Japan.
This year's visit to Shimoda also marks the first in a series of U.S.-Japan joint port visits aimed at celebrating the 50th anniversary of the treaty of mutual cooperation and security between the two nations. Japan Maritime Self Defence Force ship, JDS Shirayuki, is making a port call here alongside Curtis Wilbur.
"The U.S. and Japan are allies and 2010 is the 50th anniversary of that alliance. This visit is an outward demonstration of U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan and to maintaining peace and stability throughout the entire East Asia region. We are very excited at the opportunity to interact and work with our Japanese counterparts aboard the Shirayuki during our visit here," said Cmdr. Paul Hogue, Curtis Wilbur's commanding officer.
As the primary U.S. Navy representative to the Black Ship Festival, Curtis Wilbur Sailors will march alongside Shirayuki sailors and local citizens through downtown Shimoda during th parade. The U.S. 7th Fleet Band will also perform during the parade ceremonies and at other events.
Curtis Wilbur Sailors will also partake in goodwill events, including a visit to a local elementary school to interact with students, and engage in various sports activities with local organizations. This visit will allow the Yokosuka-based Sailors a chance to learn about Shimoda and experience the local culture.
"Curtis Wilbur Sailors represent the finest the Navy has to offer," said Curtis Wilbur's Command Master Chief (SW) John Toomer. "They work hard, day in and day out, doing their job to the best of the ability to preserve one of the best alliances in the world. Being selected to represent not only a major milestone in U.S. and Japanese history, but also a continuing friendship means a lot to Curtis Wilbur Sailors and I know we are all going to enjoy and learn a lot in the next couple of days," he added.
Curtis Wilbur is one of seven Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15, and is permanently forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.