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Japanese Ambassador Visits USS Bonhomme Richard

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070906-21
Release Date: 9/6/2007 6:15:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Woody Paschall, Fleet Public Affairs Center Pacific San Diego

USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- The Japanese ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain visited the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Sept. 5 while the ship conducted Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf.

Ambassador Takeshi Kondo toured the ship and met with Commander, Combined Task Force 51 Rear Adm. Garry E. Hall, who was also aboard for the visit. The group had lunch on board with Capt. Bradley Martin, commander, Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group; and Capt. Neil Parrott, the commanding officer of Bonhomme Richard. Also in attendance were Japanese Maritime Defense Force Cmdr. Kenji Sugahara, defense attaché and senior national representative to commander, Combined Maritime Forces; and Mikihiko Munemasa, second secretary of the Japanese Embassy in Bahrain and head of the embassy’s Public and Cultural Affairs.

“The ship is very impressive,” said Kondo. “I felt the strength of the young men and women who are lending themselves to the well-being of the region. I was happy to witness firsthand what they do. The Japanese people are proud of being a Coalition partner in making the world a safer place.”

BHR’s crew felt the significance of having this distinguished guest aboard. Some Sailors have worked with Japanese forces before and felt a special honor having Kondo as their guest.

“It’s an honor to get to show him what our craft are about,” said Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Petty Officer (SW/AW) Eric Hynes, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5’s senior load master and a native of Agana Heights, Guam. “We trained Japanese sailors on our LCACs [landing craft air cushion] in Camp Pendleton. To see someone of his caliber aboard our ship brings that full circle. We see it from the higher-ups taking interest and coming to our ship to see firsthand what we do.”

Hall said he was proud to come aboard to show off the capabilities of the men and women of BHR. And whether their mission is disaster relief or amphibious assault, this crew exemplifies the best qualities of the Navy.

“It’s a great opportunity to show off our Sailors and Marines and the job they are doing in the Gulf,” said Hall. “It’s a pleasure to give our Coalition partners a look at one of our capital ships.”

Maritime Security Operations (MSO) help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment and complements the counter-terrorism and security efforts in regional nations’ littoral waters.

Coalition forces also conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region.

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