Sakibe Navy Annex
U.S. Fleet Activities, Sasebo [CFAS] operates numerous base facilities and services in support of the forward deployed Sailors and ships. The facilities are located in nine different areas, most of which are dotted along the Sasebo Harbor. The Main Base area is the central location for a majority of services and facilities - it's also where the ships are berthed. Government housing is located at Main Base and Hario Village. The eight Landing Craft, Air Cushioned (LCAC) craft in Sasebo are parked at the Sakibe facility when not deployed with their ships, USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and USS Germantown (LSD 42).
The LCAC program has expanded to include a detachment in Sasebo, Japan. This provides a very unique opportunity for LCAC crewmembers to do an overseas LCAC assignment. The forward deployed Sasebo Detachment is up and running at full speed. This new unit is located away from the actual Sasebo base at the Sakibe Bay facility. This isolated location provides space for LCAC operations and maintenance. The detachment is divided between two ships, USS GERMANTOWN (LSD-42) and USS FORT MCHENRY (LSD-43), while deployed on local operations.
This unit operates at an increased OP TEMPO requiring maintenance and crew to work as one. Det Sasebo does not fall into the normal six-month deployment cycle, but is constantly on call and ready for action. This adds up to more underway time over the entire tour, but provides the opportunity to qualify ESWS prior to returning to the States.
Many crewmembers and their families choose to live in Japanese communities called Choes, or Navy housing is available at the Sasebo base or Hario village. Both Navy housing facilities have commissary and exchange services. Current unaccompanied tour lengths are 24 months, accompanied tours are 36 months. LCAC crewmembers will still be required to complete remaining sea time at an ACU when returning to the continental United States.
The USS Belleau Wood (39,967 tons at full load), deployed to the U.S. naval base at Sasebo, was replaced by the Essex (40,532 tons at full load) in June 2000. The Essex carries two landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) vehicles, which are not carried on the Belleau Wood. The number of LCACs assigned to the [Sasebo] base increased from six to eight.
The Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC) can be deployed at a moments notice to any number of hotspots that might flare up in the Western Pacific region. Over-the-horizon capability has been something the Navy and Marine Corps has put an emphasis on for many years now. With the advent of the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) and, more recently, the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, this capability has become a reality.
The LCAC has been in use since 1986. These amphibious air cushion vehicles are utilized by the MEU from Assault Craft Unit-5, Detachment West Pac, for rapid deployment of Marines and their equipment from ship to shore. ACU-5, Detachment West Pac, operates out of Sakibe Navy Annex, Sasebo, Japan with a total of six LCACS and approximately 70 Sailors. Three of these LCACS are attached to the USS Essex (LHD-2) from the unit.
Since FLEACT Sasebo is located in the heart of a foreign city, great care is taken to ensure that the effect of operations on the daily life of the citizens is minimized. Noise pollution is a potential area of friction between the base and the local population. COMFLEACT Sasebo has been responsive to the concerns and noise complaints of its surrounding neighbors. It has taken steps to minimize the incidence of objectionable noisy operations and cooperated with local GOJ agencies in this regard. As part of the environmental review of projects and operations the potential for noise impacts is a considering factor and attenuation measures are integrated into designs as appropriate. Recent examples are unilateral limitation of LCAC operations.
LCACs belonging to the naval base at Sasebo used to test their engines in the Sakibe-cho area of Sasebo City, but their noise became a problem. As of mid-1999 the Defense Facilities Administration Agency's Fukuoka bureau was considering the U.S. Navy's Yokose oil repository, located in the town of Saikai, as the most likely candidate site for LCACs.
Through various hazardous waste initiatives COMFLEACT Sasebo has reduced the amount of hazardous waste disposal by 39% over the last two years. This is an impressive reduction considering the population of the base and the number of base facilities have continued to grow during this same time period. During FY00 continued HAZMIN initiatives to, reuse, recycle or reduce HW has resulted in direct cost savings of $34,844. A program established at the Sakibe LCAC operation facility to recover, treat contaminated fuel will eliminate a requirement to dispose of approximately 8000 gallons of JP fuel, for a cost savings of $38,880 in fuel replacement and disposal costs.
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