YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- While touring the Kanto Plain as part of the Symposium on East Asia Security (SEAS), military and civilian leaders from around Eastern Asia came aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) April 11 for a tour of the ship and its capabilities.
The SEAS group, which consisted of 27 members representing 18 diverse countries such as Australia, China, Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines, met to discuss regional security issues of mutual concern.
"While traveling around the Pacific, I can't think of a better symbol of U.S. presence in the Pacific than the Kitty Hawk," said Air Force Maj. Thomas Black, project manager of the Asia-Pacific Defense Forum. "It's important to let the other countries participating in this forum know how committed the U.S. is to security in the East Asia region, and touring Kitty Hawk gives them a good idea."
This was the first time aboard an aircraft carrier for many symposium members, and most were impressed by Kitty Hawk's size and capabilities.
"The combat direction center was especially impressive," said Ricardo Blancaflor, an undersecretary to the president of the Philippines. "It was interesting to see how, as the ship's brain, it controls so many different aspects of the ship."
"I'm from a landlocked country and we have no ships," said Col. Sarad Giri of the Nepalese army. "The sheer size of the ship was impressive to me. Also, it was interesting to see the catapult system and how it helps planes take off."
While a trip aboard Kitty Hawk highlighted U.S. commitments to security in the region, Black said the main purpose of the symposium was to discuss security issues with country leaders face-to-face.
"We've got a large variety of people participating in this forum, not only military but civilian academics as well," said Black. "It's really interesting to hear their points of view, because often they think about issues the rest of us haven't."
"The main purpose of this symposium is communication," said Blancaflor. "It's important to see where all our neighboring countries sit on different security issues, and then to find out what our countries can do."
Before coming to Japan, the group started their tour in Honolulu, and will visit Okinawa, Japan, as their next stop. The group is also scheduled to visit Seoul, Korea; Beijing; and Manila in the Philippines.
The Kitty Hawk Strike Group is the largest carrier strike group in the Navy and is composed of the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, the guided-missile cruisers USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and USS Cowpens (CG 63), and Destroyer Squadron 15.
For related news, visit the USS Kitty Hawk Strike Group Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cv63/.