Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
For more information, contact:
Meghan Patrick Henderson (202) 685-5055
November 28, 2011
USNS Safeguard Depart Tsunami-Stricken Japanese Port
By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Daniel Sanford, U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan Public Affairs
|Click on the image for a high-resolution photo.|
|Navy Diver 2nd Class Quentin Case, from Butte, Mont., explains how to properly wear shipboard firefighting gear during a tour aboard the Military Sealift Command rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50). While Safeguard is conducting a port visit to Onagawa, the crew will assist with community service projects and conduct tours of the ship. Onagawa was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake, March 11, 2011, which triggered a massive tsunami that swept through the area. Safeguard is the first U.S. Navy ship to visit the area since Operation Tomodachi concluded. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Daniel Sanford/Released)|
ONAGAWA, Japan -- Sailors and civilians aboard USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) departed Onagawa after spending days in the tsunami-stricken Japanese city, Nov. 24.
In response to an invitation from city officials, Safeguard became the first U.S. ship to visit this area since the conclusion of Operation Tomodachi. While inport, the ship welcomed almost 400 local school children aboard for tours, and also delivered donated clothing and blankets to a local school.
The crew, comprised of Military Sealift Command personnel and U.S. Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1, Company 1-7, said they were honored by the invitation and enjoyed interacting with the local populace.
"What got me were the smiles on the children's faces," said Frank Watkins, an able-bodied seaman aboard Safeguard. "Seeing them so excited about the ship makes you feel good inside. They've been through a lot this past year. I hope they enjoyed the visit."
Onagawa was greatly impacted by the Great East Japan Earthquake, March 11, 2011, which triggered a massive tsunami that devastated the local area. More than nine months after the incident, the city is still struggling to recover. Because of that, the crew wanted the children's visit to be special.
While on board, the kids had the opportunity to see diving and shipboard firefighting displays, take a tour through the Safeguard-class salvage ship, and enjoy a barbecue on the pier.
"It's rewarding to see the kids have a good time, and I think our Sailors did a fantastic job in making that happen," said Senior Chief Navy Diver John Stegall, MDSU 1, Company 1-7 master diver. "All my guys were very caring, very motivated and I was proud to be their master diver today."
Safeguard previously spent time in Hachinohe, Japan, earlier this year, and in the days immediately following the tsunami, helped clear its harbor for ship travel.
Warrant Officer Davin Strang, MDSU 1, Company 1-7 officer in charge, said Safeguard and its crew are always willing to help out if needed.
"I hope the Japanese population understands that they can count on us if they need us," he said. "After all, helping out is what friends do."
Return to 2011 Press Release archive...