By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paolo Bayas
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Feb. 12, 2015) – Mrs. Akie Abe, first lady of Japan and spouse of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; Mrs. Caroline Kennedy, U.S. ambassador to Japan; and Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella, commander, U.S. Forces Japan, visited the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), Feb. 12.
Their visit provided first-hand familiarization of operations in George Washington’s navigation bridge, flight deck, flight deck control, hangar bay, damage control, ship store, galley and mess decks.
“My favorite parts of the ship were the flight deck and the fantastic view from the Captain’s chair,” said Mrs. Abe. “I hope that the Sailors from the U.S. will go outside of base and interact with as many Japanese people as possible. Japan and U.S. relationships are extremely important, particularly under the situation we face in a very sensitive environment. I express my sincere appreciation to all the efforts to protect the current situation.”
According to Kennedy, the visit provided her a very special honor to have Mrs. Abe and Mrs. Miyako Nakatani, spouse of Gen Nakatani, Japanese Defense Minister, on the ship, which underscores the U.S.-Japan alliance.
“It’s a fact that it takes families to make this alliance so strong,” said Kennedy. “Many of the crew members have families here and many of them are separated from their families. [This visit was] a wonderful reminder of the role families play as well as the service you all provide.”
The visit also allowed GW Sailors the chance to meet with Kennedy and explain their roles aboard the ship.
“It was really an honor to have the opportunity to present the summary of everything that I’ve learned on the ship for Mrs. Kennedy and Japan’s first lady,” said Damage Controlman 3rd Class Monica Duran, from El Paso, Texas. “I don’t think that I would have had this opportunity outside the Navy.”
Mrs. Haruko Komura, spouse of Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Masahiko Komura, was also among the 26 distinguished visitors aboard George Washington.
“This visit shows the strength of the Japan-U.S. alliance, that the prime minister’s wife, Mrs. Abe, travels here with the ambassador to meet Sailors and thank them for serving so far away from home to keep peace and stability in the Pacific,” said Angelella. “It just really shows that after 70 years of peace and stability together, how we keep progressing.”