By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Aug. 6, 2016) – Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) lent a hand in supporting Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka’s 40th annual Friendship Day celebration, a base community relations event that welcomed nearly 60,000 guests.
Following the base’s Spring Festival conducted in March, Friendship Day’s purpose served to further strengthen and deepen the existing relationship between the Yokosuka Naval base and the local community.
“To our neighbors, and to those who traveled far to be here, I am so happy to show you what Yokosuka Friendship Day is all about,” said Capt. Jeffrey Kim, Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, in his opening remarks. “But friendship in Yokosuka doesn’t happen on this day alone, nor is it limited to the base. The friendship in Yokosuka goes beyond the strong Japan-U.S. alliance to protect our two great democracies and guarantee peace and stability in this region of the world. The friendship resonates throughout the City of Yokosuka and flows throughout the communities in Kanagawa.”
The event is one of three open-base events held at FLEACT Yokosuka each year, providing Japanese residents an opportunity to visit the base where they can enjoy food, live music, ships’ tours and other entertainment provided by the base’s tenant commands, including SRF-JRMC.
SRF-JRMC’s contribution to the event this year included two booths. The command’s recreation committee operated a booth providing hot dogs, steaks, soft drinks and command merchandise, and the Chief Petty Officer Association (CPOA) also sold command merchandise and soft drinks.
Visitors for Saturday’s event flocked to the booths and stood in long lines to grab a bite of genuine American cuisine.
“Our service today is cooking food for [Japanese people] and selling the food,” said Electronics Technician 1st Class Nolan Mason who worked at the recreation committee booth. “I think it’s important that we give back to them, because the community has definitely given so much to us.”
“I joined the volunteering team at the last Spring Festival, too,” said a Japanese employee, who volunteered to support the same booth. “This time, I brought my niece who is very much interested in speaking English. It is good that I could meet people from other sections at SRF-JRMC who I rarely see. It helps me network with them.”
“I really enjoyed helping here,” the niece said. “All the people from SRF-JRMC spoke to me in a friendly way. I am convinced that I should study English more.”
The 2016 Friendship Day featured ship attractions such as the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Enoshima-class minesweeper JS Enoshima (MSC 604). Both vessels saw long lines of visitors for an opportunity to walk on the decks and see the ships.
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” said Senior Chief Electronics Technician Dominique Taylor. “It’s fun. It’s hot! But it’s a good time for everybody to come out here. We got to speak to a lot of Japanese [people], and I learned Japanese myself. We definitely had a good time.”
“[I] met a lot of people,” said Senior Chief Electronics Technician Jonathan Nelson. “[It’s] very nice to interact with Japanese. [I was able to] learn some Japanese and talk. Basically [we] show off our customs and have a fun day with the community.”
“[This event is for] building a bond between the U.S. and Japanese forces and just continually supporting each other, showing love to one another,” said Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Tonysha Evans.
The proceeds from the command’s booths will be used for another contribution to the local community – a holiday party for a local residential facility for individuals with mental and physical disabilities – as well as command functions like the New Year and holiday parties.