Thursday, August 05, 2010

USS Vandegrift Arrives in Aomori, Japan

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew M. Bradley, U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan, Public Affairs

AOMORI, Japan (NNS) -- The guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) arrived in Aomori, Japan, Aug. 2, to participate in a port call in the northern Japanese city.

The port visit is in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty and is one of several alliance port visits scheduled for 2010.

It is also a bilateral visit as the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's destroyer JS Amagiri (DD 154) joins the Vandegrift and is moored alongside.

"The crew is excited to be in Aomori and to have an opportunity to experience the culture and meet the people of Japan," said Cmdr. Steven A. Prescott, USS Vandegrift's commanding officer.

While in port, Vandegrift's crew of more than 200 Sailors will offer tours of the ship and will also participate in the local Nebuta Festival. This is the first time any U.S. crew has taken part in the festival in this capacity.

"I'm looking forward to the Nebuta Festival, as well as doing some sightseeing," said Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Phillip Lee.

"Each night about 20 Vandegrift Sailors will be able to participate in the festival," said Prescott. "It will be a great and unique opportunity to experience one of the biggest festivals in Japan."

The San-Diego based ship departed its homeport April 12 and is currently taking part in an independent deployment to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility in the Western Pacific Ocean.

Previously, Vandegrift was forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, for eight years prior to returning to San Diego Aug. 14.