Japanese guests tour the new Yokose Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) Facility after a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the facility in Saikai City, March 15. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mackenzie P. Adams/)

SAIKAI CITY, Japan - U.S. Navy flag officers joined Japanese senior-level officials for a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the Yokose Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) laydown Facility, March 15.

The facility, funded by the government of Japan, began construction in December of 2004. Cmdr. Erik Nilsson, Commanding Officer of Naval Beach Unit (NBU) Seven, said it will be used for housing and maintaining the 12-unit LCAC fleet, originally based in Sasebo. The new facility, which includes training, maintenance and administrative offices, will alleviate the space and noise pollution issues associated with the previous location.

"This new facility is 100 times better than the last facility, and will definitely contribute to a better working environment for our Sailors," said Nilsson. "Being located at Yokose also allows us to strengthen community bonds and create new ones with the local community."

Attendees of the ceremony ranged from members of the Saikai City community to senior-level U.S. and Japan military officials. Rear Adm. Dan Cloyd, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan; Rear Adm. Jeffery Harley, Commander, Amphibious Forces Seventh Fleet; and Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo commanding officer Capt. Charles W. Rock, headed up the U.S. contingent while Mr. Tanaka Takaichi, Mayor of Saikai City, and Mr. Nakano Yoshio, Chairman of the Saikai City Assembly led the Japanese audience.

Rear Adm. Cloyd, took a moment to thank the Saikai City community and all who made the facility a possibility.

"I'm deeply grateful for the truly outstanding support of the people of Saikai City who made this day possible," said Cloyd. "Today's ceremony marks the culmination of 14-years of selfless efforts by many dedicated professionals who've worked tirelessly since the city first approved the concept."

Following the ceremony the attendees toured the new facility and enjoyed refreshments provided by Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo.