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USS Fitzgerald Arrives in Shimoda for Black Ship Festival

18 May 2013

From Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class N. Ross Taylor

The guided-missile destroyer anchored in Shimoda, Japan, May 16 to participate in the city's 74th annual Black Ship Festival.

SHIMODA, Japan - Guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) anchored in Shimoda May 16 to participate in the city's 74th annual Black Ship Festival.

The festival promotes the peaceful relations between the Japanese and American people and commemorates the 159th anniversary of the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry to Japan in 1854, an event which marked the beginning of diplomacy and trade agreements between U.S. and Japan.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship, JDS Murasame (DD 101), is also making a port call here alongside Fitzgerald.

"The U.S. and Japan are allies and this visit is an outward demonstration of U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan and to maintaining peace and stability throughout the entire region," said Cmdr. Jonathan Schmitz, Fitzgerald's commanding officer. "The officers and crew of Fitzgerald are very excited to not only experience the city of Shimoda, but at the opportunity to interact and work with our Japanese counterparts aboard the Murasame during our visit."

As the primary U.S. Navy representatives to the Black Ship Festival, Fitzgerald Sailors will march alongside Murasame sailors and local citizens through downtown Shimoda during a parade. The U.S. 7th Fleet Band will also perform during the parade ceremonies and at other events.

Fitzgerald Sailors will also participate in goodwill events, including a visit to several local elementary schools to interact with students and engage in various sports activities with local organizations. This visit allows the U.S. Sailors a chance to learn about Shimoda and experience the local culture.

"The Sailors of Fitzgerald represent the finest the Navy has to offer," said Fitzgerald's Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Joshua Davis. "They work hard, day in and day out, doing their job to help preserve one of the strongest alliances in the world. Being selected to represent a major milestone in U.S. and Japanese history, as well as a continuing friendship means a lot to our Sailors and I know we are all looking forward to the next couple of days."

Fitzgerald, with a crew of approximately 300 Sailors, is one of seven Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15, and is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, to support security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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