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TOMAKOMAI, Japan - Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyers USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) arrived in Tomakomai, Japan, to participate in the annual Sapporo Snow Festival, Feb. 4.
This visit is to promote goodwill between the U.S. and Japan. Visiting ports around Japan provides Sailors with an opportunity to further their understanding and appreciation of Japan's culture and customs.
"We are extremely pleased to be able to attend the Sapporo Ice Festival," said Cmdr. Hans De For, Curtis Wilbur's commanding officer. "As one of our strongest and longest-standing bilateral allies, Japan and the U.S. hold a very close friendship. Celebrating with our Japanese friends is a wonderful way to better understand each other and strengthen our bonds."
The ships' crews, along with members of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and local citizens, will be participating in a number of events to include community relations projects, snow carving contests and winter sports.
"We're glad to be here at Tomakomai and our crew is very excited," said Cmdr. Chase Sergeant, John S. McCain's commanding officer. We operate out of Yokosuka, Japan and many Sailors consider the country their home-away-from-home. This is a great opportunity for us to experience more of the Japanese culture. Many of the Sailors aboard our ship have flown in their families to enjoy the Sapporo ice festival, myself included."
The city of Sapporo also provides Sailors with opportunities to see landmarks and enjoy cuisine that are entirely unique to the Northern area of Japan. Morale, Welfare and Recreation representatives for both ships will be giving Sailors the option to attend tours and day-trips to local areas of interest for the duration of the festival.
John S. McCain and Curtis Wilbur are assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, in support of stability and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.