YOKOSUKA, Japan - Sailors from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) will find a new way to give a special shout-out during Fleet Week Japan and Fleet Week New York, which are being held virtually, May 26-31.
This is the first time JMSDF has hosted Fleet Week Japan.
Yokosuka is home to JMSDF headquarters, and hosts the largest U.S. Navy installation outside of the United States.
The intent behind the joint Fleet Weeks is to highlight the special relationship between Japan and the United States. In 1960, Tokyo was the first city to be recognized by New York City as a sister city.
"We are excited about Fleet Week Japan, and hope that this will be the start of many Fleet Weeks in the future," said Vice Adm. Ryo Sakai, Commandant, Yokosuka District. "The purpose is for our Sailors to continue to build upon our relationship, and grow stronger through friendship and shared experiences."
"We have a longstanding partnership with the Japanese and work closely with the JMSDF," said Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan. "We are so proud to have the opportunity to celebrate their inaugural Fleet Week together, and look forward to a fun week of interactive challenges that recognize some of the physical rigors of life at sea."
The two leaders recently met aboard USS Mustin (DDG 89), which has special significance. Mustin participated in Operation Tomodachi, a word that means "friendship," following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Furthermore, the ship is unique in that the top three leaders – the commanding officer, executive officer, and command master chief -- all come from New York. While aboard Mustin, the crew presented Sakai with a popular U.S. Navy Sailor dish - an authentic Navy burger.
Over the course of the two Fleet Weeks, JMSDF and U.S. Sailors will be inviting people to participate in the "Navy Sea Legs Fitness Challenge."
Aboard U.S. Navy ships, any elevators are intended for aircraft and supplies, and personnel are expected to get where they need to go by climbing steep stairs. On large ships such as aircraft carriers, which are approximately 20 stories high, a U.S. Sailor might average a few hundred vertical steps each day.
The "Navy Sea Legs" challenge encourages participants to climb stairs to reach the height of iconic landmarks in New York City and across Japan. A different landmark will be featured each day. The events will range from climbing the height of the Statue of Liberty (354 steps) on Wednesday to climbing the equivalent of Mount Fuji from the fifth station (19,600 steps) over the weekend.
Sailor fitness challenge exercises will also include a "New York minute" plank, and push-ups to align with the new physical readiness test standards U.S. Sailors must complete beginning in July.
In addition to the alliance between the two countries and the importance of physical fitness, during the joint Fleet Week personnel from both the JMSDF and U.S. will exchange traditional "Sailor foods." Aboard U.S. Navy ships, it is common to have burgers every Wednesday; whereas JMSDF ships typically serve "Kaigun" (Navy) curry to their personnel every Friday. Both the curry and the burgers are popular, established, and protected dishes in the city of Yokosuka.
Navy Sea Legs Challenge
Wednesday, May 26:
U.S. Navy Sailors often mark the passing of time by the food being served aboard the warship. If burgers are being served for lunch – it must be Wednesday! Yokosuka and Sasebo, two prominent bases that host U.S. Sailors, are famous for their “Navy burgers,” and the burger is featured on tourism websites as a destination food.
Thursday, May 27:
Friday, May 28:
Just as U.S. Navy Sailors have burgers aboard their warships on Wednesdays, JMSDF Sailors are famous for having “Navy curry” aboard their ships every Friday. The tradition originated from an exchange with the British Navy at the beginning of the 20th century. In Yokosuka, restaurants serve the popular curry dish with a salad and glass of milk – which nicely rounds out a Sailor’s diet and provides good nutrition.
Saturday, May 29 – Monday, May 31:
In 2009, the U.S. Navy commander at Fleet Activities Yokosuka presented the Mayor of Yokosuka with the recipe for a U.S. Navy New York-style cheesecake as part of a cultural exchange. In order for local restaurants to serve the “Yokosuka” Navy New York style cherry cheesecake, they must apply to the city for permission, and officials regularly inspect the dessert to ensure it meets their high standards. The cheesecake is a fitting dessert for Japan, since it originated in ancient Greece and Olympic athletes consumed cheesecake for energy and protein.