TOMAKOMAI KO, Japan (March 16, 2011) Japan Ground Self-Defense Force vehicles cover the flight deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) for delivery to Onimato, Japan. (U. S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Scott Bourque)

TOMAKOMAI KO, Japan - Sailors aboard USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) Northern Army loaded vehicles and trailers pierside in Tomakomai Ko, March 15, in support of earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.

Tortuga’s crew loaded 13 jeeps, 10 utility trailers, six water trailers and three humvees via crane onto the flight deck and additional equipment via landing craft into the well deck, totaling 90 vehicles and 300 JGSDF soldiers.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for us. Seeing these vehicles on our ship really demonstrates the bonds between the U.S. and Japan," said Cmdr. Adrian Ragland, commanding officer of Tortuga.

Tortuga’s visit to Tomakomai Ko , though brief, marks the first time a Navy ship has ever pulled into the port. After the ships brief stay, Tortuga will offload the equipment in Ominato, which will be used to transfer supplies, personnel and water to areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami in northern Honshu in support of Operation Tomodachi.