By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Beverly J. Lesonik
WATERS EAST OF OKINAWA – The U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) hosted distinguished visitors from Japan and the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, July 31.
Among the visitors were Yoshihiko Fukuda, mayor of Iwakuni City; Takumi Shiiki, mayor of Suo-Oshima Town; and Masaaki Yonemoto, mayor of Waki town.
“This visit is a great opportunity for our Japanese allies to understand why we are stationed in Atsugi and Yokosuka, Japan,” said Capt. William Koyama, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5. “I hope that the mayors, as senior leaders, can explain the importance of the mission that is accomplished by the ship and its air wing in this region.”
Visitors witnessed flight operations from the Flag Bridge and toured the ship’s navigation bridge, air operations center, combat direction center, and the flight deck for a first-hand experience of aircraft launches and recoveries.
“I hope they had an enjoyable time onboard the ship,” said Capt. Greg Fenton, George Washington’s commanding officer. “It is a great opportunity for myself and the crew to host distinguished visitors. It is important that we maintain contact with the influential government leaders from lead cities around our bases.”
Government leaders and the other distinguished visitors were encouraged to ask as many questions as they wanted to help them understand George Washington and CVW 5’s mission.
“We really encourage their questions because we want to explain the complexities of carrier operations,” said Marine Col. Robert Boucher, commanding officer, MCAS Iwakuni.
According to Boucher, a tour for leaders of this caliber emphasizes how strong the relationship is between the U.S. and Japan, and how it solidifies their friendship.
“It was such a precious and exciting experience to be aboard George Washington,” said Fukuda. “I sincerely appreciate everyone and want to thank the Admiral and the crew for hosting us.”