By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erin Devenberg
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Dec. 27, 2012) – The U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) teamed up to host 11 Japanese students affected by the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami Dec. 27.
The Tomodachi Initiative is a public-private partnership led by the U.S. Government and U.S.–Japan Council that supports Japan’s recovery from the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, and invests in the next generation of Japanese and Americans in ways to strengthen cultural and economic ties, and deepen the friendship between the two countries.
“The purpose of today’s tour is to give these children the opportunity to visit a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and provide them a little break during the holiday season,” said Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) Anthony R. Patton Jr., from Oklahoma City.
“I see these children as the future of Japan; just like our children are the future in the U.S. If you reach out to the children now, they will become future leaders, and if they can communicate and understand why we’re here, twenty years from now it’s going to foster a better relationship.”
The tour of the ship gave the students the opportunity to turn their imaginations to real-life experiences aboard one of many U.S. Navy ships that provided assistance in 2011.
“Everything on the ship was huge. I learned about the flight deck and how long it is, and how everything works for navigation,” said Rikiya Nagano, 13, from Rikuzentakata-Iwate, Japan. “I got to stand at the helm and steer the ship, and I thought the Sailors were really cool.”
The students are here for a three-day, two-night stay at CFAY to share time with U.S. Navy Sailors and their families. The families will take the children to local attractions and while on base, the Japanese youths will visit the bowling center and play dodge ball with U.S. junior high school students at the fleet gym.
George Washington returned to its forward-operating location of CFAY, Japan, from its 2012 patrol on Nov. 20. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its partners and allies in the Asia-Pacific region.