By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Cavagnaro
SASEBO, Japan – The George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GWCSG) arrived in Sasebo, Japan, for a scheduled port visit, Aug. 1.
More than 5,500 GWCSG Sailors will have the opportunity to volunteer their time and efforts to help make a difference in various Japanese communities by participating in community relations (COMREL) projects and attending a broad spectrum of tours, hiking trips, sporting events and shopping excursions offered by Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR).
“Our visit to Sasebo offers great recreational and goodwill-generating activities,” said Capt. Greg Fenton, commanding officer of the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). “This port visit gives us an opportunity to show our partners in Japan that they have no better friend than the United States Navy.”
While in Sasebo, approximately 65 crewmembers from GWCSG will take part in three COMREL projects organized by George Washington’s Command Religious Ministry Division (CRMD), including volunteer opportunities at two homes for the elderly and a visit to Tenshin-ryo Children’s Home.
“COMREL’s offer an opportunity for Sailors to gain experience and exposure to various cultures and customs of our host nations,” said Religious Programs Specialist 3rd Class Kassandra Castaneda, from San Antonio. “Everyone who participates has the chance to leave a lasting impression upon those whom may have little firsthand experience understanding the United States and its people.”
MWR also organized four friendship-building sporting events with Japanese nationals as well as multiple tours for Sailors to enjoy, including a trip to Kashima Shrine, which is largely considered one of the three great shrines in Japan; a Sasebo city tour to give Sailors a small sampling of what the Sasebo area has to offer; and a day trip to the historical city of Nagasaki, nicknamed the “city of peace.”
“It’s rare that we get an opportunity to visit a city with such historical significance as Nagasaki,” said Momoyo Harris, George Washington’s MWR director. “About 150 Sailors signed up for the tour and I’m certain it will be one to remember.”
Many GWCSG Sailors are looking forward to going ashore to enjoy some much-needed time off and travel opportunities.
“I’m excited to be able to visit Sasebo and get a break from the routine of life underway,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman Vincent Snyder, from Fayetteville, N.C. “I’m looking forward to spending time with my friends, talking with my family back in the U.S. and checking out the Mitsui Green Land Amusement Park to ride the roller coasters.”
GWCSG includes the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Shiloh (CG 67), and the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyers USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and USS Stetham (DDG 63).