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Patriot Sailors Arrive in Iwakuni for Port Visit, Test Out Marine Corps Pier

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070212-11
Release Date: 2/12/2007 4:00:00 PM

By Chief Electrician’s Mate (SW) Noel B. Corneja, USS Patriot Public Affairs, Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Adam R. Cole, Task Force 76 Public Affairs

IWAKUNI, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors of mine countermeasures ship USS Patriot (MCM 7) braved a treacherous passage through Japan’s southwest Honshu Island in a thick fog to reach the city of Iwakuni on Feb. 9 for a weekend visit.

After a six-hour sea and anchor detail filled with precise maneuvers, the ship pulled into the recently built pier at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni -- becoming the first U.S. Navy vessel to moor at the pier.

While in Iwakuni, the ship’s approximately 85 crew members had the chance to explore the city and participate in a number of activities set to bring them closer to the people of Iwakuni and to the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) personnel based there.

“We are grateful to the Marine Corps and equally to the city of Iwakuni for extending this welcome and allowing us to re-supply and experience this wonderful city,” said Lt. Cmdr. Thomas E. Shultz, Patriot’s commanding officer. “Anytime we can visit another place in Japan, it is a treat, for it is only through experience that we can draw closer to this country and its people.”

These thoughts were echoed by Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Capt. Takeshi Asano, commanding officer, Mine Countermeasure Helicopter Squadron (SQ) 111, on whom Shultz made a courtesy call and was among a number of guests during a reception held aboard the ship.

“We enjoy a good friendship with the U.S. Navy and want to build that friendship,” said Asano.

Building friendships was on the agenda the day after the arrival, as SQ 111 took on Patriot Sailors in a softball game. The genuine handshakes at the game’s end revealed opponents on the field would live as friends off it.

Patriot is a mine countermeasures ship forward-deployed to Sasebo. Patriot and the USS Guardian (MCM 5) serve under Task Force 76, which serves as the 7th Fleet’s mine countermeasures arm in forward-deployed operations.

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