ABOARD USS JOHN C. STENNIS (NNS) -- After successfully completing a Joint Air-Sea Exercise (JASEX) with the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), elements of the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps, Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) spent four days enjoying the sights and sounds of Sasebo, Japan. The last port visit for the San Diego-based aircraft carrier was in Pearl Harbor in late July.
Stennis Sailors were able to experience fine dining, exciting cultural tours and shopping during the port visit.
"We had a great time in Sasebo," said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Josephina Lopez. "I particularly enjoyed the culture in Japan. My friends and I had fun walking around the town, and taking in all the sights," she said.
Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) aboard Stennis and in Sasebo offered many opportunities for Sailors to see the sights of Sasebo, and experience the culture and people of Japan.
"This port visit not only provided an opportunity for Stennis Sailors to make new friends and experience the wonderful Japanese culture, it allowed the people of Sasebo to meet the fine men and women who proudly represent Stennis and the United States Navy," said Capt. Dave Buss, commanding officer of Stennis.
Many Sailors spent hours shopping in Sasebo's Ginza Arcade, a mile-long shopping mall filled with endless Japanese specialty stores.
"The shopping center was enormous," said Seaman Maria Pacheco of deck department. "My friends and I walked around for hours looking in all the stores they had."
"Going to Japan was definitely the chance of a lifetime," added Pacheco. "It's a place most Americans don't get to visit, and we are lucky to have gone to such a great place."
The Stennis Strike Group departed Japan Aug. 25, continuing a scheduled summer deployment to the Western Pacific. Soon after departure, Stennis joined up with several destroyers from the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) to conduct a series of joint, cooperation building exercises.
"These exercises are designed to strengthen the already high level of interoperability between the United States Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force," said Buss. He explained that the exercises included communications drills, ship handling exercises, flight operations, air defense drills, flag hoist drills and cross-decking personnel with JMSDF forces.
"It is important to practice operating and communicating together in a joint environment to build our confidence, so we can effectively do so in the future," Buss said.
The Stennis Strike Group is scheduled to continue the summer deployment to the Western Pacific and return to San Diego in the Fall.
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is the center of the Stennis Strike Group and is the flagship for Rear Adm. Patrick Walsh, commander, Carrier Group 7; Capt. John Christensen, commander, Destroyer Squadron 21; and Capt. Scott Craig, commander, Air Wing 14.
The strike group of five support ships include the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83), guided-missile frigate USS Ford (FFG 54), Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716), and the replenishment ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7).
For related news, visit the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn74.