By Sky M. Laron, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Director of Corporate Communications
YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- U.S. and Japanese naval supply leaders gathered together July 28 at the Officer's Club on board Yokosuka Naval Base to recognize a recent graduate from their joint training program, which dates back to 1952.
U.S. Sailors from Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistic Center (FLC) Yokosuka and members of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) have been gathering several times a year for more than six decades to honor the young Japanese supply officers that complete their joint internship program as a member of one of the U.S. Navy's elite supply commands.
"The United States is a very important ally of Japan for our national security and the U.S. Navy is the most important partner for JMSDF," said Capt. Hiroki Saigawa, commanding officer, JMSDF Ship Supply Depot (SSD). "It is necessary for us, JMSDF and U.S. Navy, that we deepen our mutual understanding."
Every internship is approximately seven months in length and the Japanese junior officers who are selected to attend the program and work alongside their U.S. counterparts are the most elite candidates in their field.
"How our commands have been linked together through this internship program and other training opportunities over the decades is very unique to us and I can honestly say that, through this relationship -- it is us...here now, in this room, that are making a difference in continually strengthening the bond between Japan and America," said Cmdr. Paul Dougherty, executive officer, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka. "What an exciting challenge and responsibility that we are fulfilling."
This joint internship program has graduated more than 180 Japanese Supply Corps officers many of whom become senior level professionals in the JMSDF logistics system with three interns having gone on to reach the rank of rear or vice admiral within the JMSDF.
"During my training here, I was so blessed with all of you who guided me in such friendly and generous ways," said Lt. Akifumi Hyodoh, the 182nd and most recent graduate of the joint internship program.
Hyodoh shared how he will be taking the logistics knowledge he has gained from his colleagues at NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka, as well as his friendships, with him as he transfers to his next assignment within the JMSDF as the supply officer onboard the guided missile destroyer JDS Chokai (DDG 176), which is homeported in Sasebo, Japan.
Hyodoh served in the NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Industrial Support Department (Code 500), which has a mission of supporting the U.S. Navy Ship Repair Facility/Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF/JRMC) - PACFLT's only overseas ship repair and modernization maintenance facility.
To meet the material requirements of our largest industrial customer, in order to support the 19 Japan-based FDNF ships and their requisite industrial maintenance schedules, the team must work tirelessly, said Michael Schoedler, deputy director, Code 500.
"There were some hard times during my work here, but it was also a great opportunity to improve myself personally as well as professionally," said Hyodoh.
"I hope this internship program bares fruit for the future and our great relationship between U.S. Navy and JMSDF lasts forever," said Saigawa.
"Thank you to all our JMSDF partners for being part of this great endeavor to maintain and strengthen our understanding of one another as well as our steadfast alliance," added Dougherty.
NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka, one of eight fleet logistics centers under NAVSUP Global Logistics Support (GLS), is the Western Pacific region's largest U.S. Navy logistics command, headquartered just 26 miles due south of Tokyo, the enterprise networks more than 20 sites and fuel terminals from Misawa, Japan, to Sydney, Australia; Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to Guam with a mission to serve the Asia Pacific Region's forward deployed maritime Warfighter with 24/7 operational logistics support integrating an extensive service provider network to deliver fuel, material, mail and supply chain services across the U.S. Navy's largest geographical area of responsibility.