SASEBO, Japan (July 18, 2011) Ensign James Kevern (left), hazmat and material officer aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), explains flight deck operations to a group of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force cadets during a tour ofthe ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew R. Cole/Released)

SASEBO, Japan - Cadets of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) working aboard the Shirane class destroyer JS Kurama (DDH-144) toured the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) July 18.

The 24 cadets toured the ship's well deck, hangar bay, mess decks, the flight deck and bridge during their hour-long visit. Essex extended the invitation to the JMSDF cadets to continue fostering the friendship between the U.S. and Japan.

“It’s important to come aboard and visit each other as a display our friendship to the people who will be the leaders of our navy tomorrow,” said Lt. Shigeru Funamizu, communication officer aboard Kurama. "This is the first time for [the cadets] to be on one of our ships, let alone a U.S. ship, so this is a good opportunity for them to see us work together."

The tour also offered junior officers of Essex a chance to interact with the future leaders of the JMSDF.

“We know we will be working together in the future, so being able to spend time with the cadets, building our knowledge of each other so that we can work well together later is more than a worth while investment,” said Ensign Chelsea Ricketson, repair officer aboard Essex. “I believe if we pay it forward now, it will pay itself back to the Navy’s future.”

The tour concluded on the flight deck of Essex, where the cadets had a chance to meet with Rear Adm. Scott Jones, commander, Task Force 76 (CTF 76). Jones spoke to the cadets about the importance of serving their county.

“It’s great to have them aboard, to give the future sailors of the JMSDF a chance to learn what our maritime partnership is capable of,” said Jones.

Jones went on to thank the cadets for their contribution by serving in the JMSDF and invited the cadets back for future visits.