SHIMODA, Japan (May 20, 2012) Sailors assigned to guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) tour the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Ship Yamagiri (DD 152) as part of an exchange between the two ships participating in the annual Black Ship Festival in Shimoda. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew R. Cole)

SHIMODA, Japan - Sailors aboard the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) participated in the 73rd annual Black Ship Festival in Shimoda, Japan, May 17-20.

The festival celebrates the continuing peaceful relationship between Japan and the U.S. by commemorating the 1854 landing of Commodore Perry and the signing of the Japan-American Treaty of Trade and Amity in Shimoda.

"This is a celebration that highlights the United States and Japan's common bond," said Cmdr. Thomas "T.J." Dixon, McCampbell's commanding officer. "The united effort that both countries have put forth continues to prove how beneficial and essential it is for us to continue working together."

The crew of McCampbell visited six different elementary schools in the Shimoda area, interacting with local students and sharing their culture and experiences as Sailors.

During the festival's official parade, McCampbell Sailors marched through the Shimoda downtown area, accompanied by the United States Ambassador to Japan, John Roos and Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, Adm. Dan Cloyd.

"It is my great honor, privilege and pleasure to be here to commemorate the conclusion of the first treaty of peace and amity between Japan and the United States," said Cloyd. "That document, signed one hundred and fifty-eight years ago, was the beginning of what has grown to be a priceless relationship between our two nations and people."

The additional festivities included a cooperative performance between the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Band and U.S. Army Band, along with a beach volley ball game, golf match, tug-of-war event, and soft ball game with participating McCampbell crewmembers and Shimoda locals.

The three-day festival gave members from both nations an opportunity to have fun together and strengthen community relations.

"As testament of our extraordinary alliance, I hope that the Black Ship Festival will forever have a special place in the hearts of Japanese and Americans alike," said Heita Kawakatsu, Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan. "To all those who promoted mutual understanding and goodwill between our two countries, I thank you."

McCampbell is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and is currently underway in the 7th Fleet area of operations.