Naha Port is located in Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. Naha is the capital city of Okinawa. A trip to the markets of downtown Naha and is an exciting experience as well as a great chance to pick up souvenirs. Several stores offer samples of traditional Okinawan liquors and foods. Naha is also the principal port of Okinawa, and is located on the southwestern coast of the island. Naha Harbor consists of an outer harbor, with outer and inner anchorages, and 2 inner harbors. The main inner harbor (Naha Ko) is used by ocean-going vessels with a draft up to 31.5 feet, while the new inner harbor is used by coastal vessels under 3,000 tons. The main inner harbor is divided into a commercial area (northern part) and an Army area (southern part) which has eight piers. The commercial wharfs are letter designated A through L. Piers A-D and J-L are "small craft" piers while pier E is not used. The inner and outer anchorages are not individually charted and several sunken wrecks within the anchorages are hazards to those vessels lacking local knowledge. The anchorages are exposed to wind and sea and the bottom is considered very poor holding ground. The tidal range in the harbor is about 6 feet while mean currents do not exceed 2.5 knots.
The Director for Terminal Operations, US Army, was responsible for the operation of facilities and services in the military terminal complex of the port on the south side, while the Japanese Maritime Safety Agency (JMSA) controlled the commercial complex on the north side. The US Military Port consists of 140 acres, of which 126 acres were used for military operations. It included 7 deep water berths, a watercraft landing area, and 160,000 square feet of covered in-transit storage. It is home to the 835th Transportation Battalion.
American interest in Okinawa first developed over 130 years ago when President Millard Fillmore directed Commodore Perry to "secure one or more ports of refuge of easy access for American shipping and whaling vessels in the Western Pacific." Naha was one of the ports selected by the Commodore. On 11 July 1854, Perry signed the Compact between the United States and the Kingdom of Loo Choo. The Compact provided for trading rights, and the provision of pilotage, wood, and water for American vessels. Of local historical interest was the founding of the International Cemetery concurrent with the negotiation of the Compact. Three members of Commodore Perry's crew were buried in the cemetery located near Tomari Port, 2 miles north of Naha Port.
Although American interest in Naha Port diminished soon after Perry's visit, its importance to local trade increased. The configuration of the port complex that existed at the turn of the millennium was developed in 1880 when the width of the channel was increased to 73 meters, thereby permitting the berthing of vessels up to 1500 tons. During the period from 1921 to 1925, a 145-meter wharf was constructed and the channel depth increased to 7.5 meters. The Port was bombarded into ruins during World War II and was rebuilt under US control.
After World War II, only a few structures on Okinawa remained intact. The Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters, honeycombed beneath the hill above Naha, was one structure that stood solid during constant US bombardment. The commercial port was under the control of the US Government from 1945 to 1954, at which time it was transferred to the Government of the Ryukyu Islands. After 1972, the commercial port was administered by the City of Naha. Naha Port became the second largest military port on Okinawa, with White Beach Area in Katsuren town being the largest.
During the Vietnam War, before Okinawa's reversion, there were many port calls made to the port by various warships and nuclear submarines. However, after the reversion, the port was no longer visited by nuclear vessels and was subsequently used less and less. With a land area of 567,000 square meters, there were a total of 993 land owners paid a yearly rental fee of 1.748 billion yen. Due to the fact it was in vicinity of Naha airport, the area would also be extremely suitable for industrial development. In 1974, its return was agreed upon at the Security Consultative Committee (SCC). In May 1995, the US-Japan Joint Committee approved the recommendation from the Naha Port Special Working Group to completely return the port on the condition that a replacement facility, with an area of approximately 35.3 hectares, be built at the Urasoe Pier Area.
The United States and Japan released the Final Report of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) on 2 December 1996. The report made 27 recommendations to reduce the impact of the US military presence on the Okinawan people. This included an agreement to jointly continue best efforts to accelerate the return of Naha Port, covering approximately 57 hectares (140 acres) in connection to its relocation to the Urasoe Pier area, covering approximately 35 hectares (87 acres).
In October 2005, the US and Japan reached an agreement on relocating a pair of US military bases on the southern island of Okinawa. The US would return to Japan port facilities at the Naha Naval Port in Naha and the Makiminato Service Area. The bases' functions would be consolidated with those at Camp Courtney on Okinawa. Some of the units stationed at Makiminato would be moved to Guam. To speed the transfer, Japan might help fund the construction of new military facilities.
On 5 April 2013, the US Department of Defense released a Consolidation Plan for Facilities and Areas in Okinawa. The realignment described in the plan, including consolidation, of US forces within Okinawa was a significant effort by the US and Japanese Governments, which recognized the importance of enhancing Japanese and US public support for the security alliance, which contributed to a sustainable presence of US forces at facilities and areas in Japan as stated in "U.S.-Japan Alliance: Transformation and Realignment for the Future," a document of the Security Consultative Committee (SCC), dated 29 October 2005. When implemented, the realignment would ensure a life-of-the-Alliance presence for US forces in Japan as stated in "United States-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation," also known as the Realignment Roadmap, another SCC document, dated 1 May 2006. The realignment would also maintain deterrence and mitigate the impact of US forces on local communities. In order to realize the realignment, the US and Japanese Governments developed and would implement the consolidation plan.
In a SCC Joint Statement on 27 April 2012, the US and Japanese Governments confirmed that the total or partial return of the 6 facilities and areas designated in the Realignment Roadmap remained unchanged and that the land of aforementioned facilities and areas utilized by US forces were eligible for return under the Consolidation Plan in 3 categories: 1) Areas eligible for immediate return upon completion of necessary procedures; 2) Areas eligible for return once the replacement facilities in Okinawa were provided; and, 3) Areas eligible for return as US Marine Corps forces relocate from Okinawa to locations outside of Japan. Naha port, the return of which had been agreed to pending the construction of replacement facilities in 1974, was included in the second category. The total area designated for return was approximately 56 hectares. In preparation for the land return, functions of Naha Port would have to be relocated to the replacement facility, covering approximately 49 hectares, including additional staging area, which was to be constructed at Urasoe Pier area. It was said that the Naha Port could be returned upon completion of conditions and necessary procedures for return in JFY2028 or later.
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