OTARU, Japan (NNS) -- Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) made its first port visit while forward deployed to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region in Otaru, Japan, Feb. 5.
Benfold's port visit is intended to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. Navy and the local people of Japan.
The Japan and U.S. relationship is rooted in operations at sea. U.S. Navy ships routinely operate with Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) and visit various Japanese port visits. It is only fitting that a U.S. ship visit Japan to celebrate Otaru's Snow Festival and nearby Sapporo Ice Festival.
"I'm excited to visit Otaru," said Quartermaster 2nd Class Anacristina Nunag, assigned to Benfold. "I'm looking forward to experiencing a different part of the country and a culture that is different than my own."
While visiting Otaru, the crew is looking forward to meeting local citizens, taking advantage of opportunities for recreation, sightseeing, shopping, enjoying the local cuisine, cultural attractions, and learning more about the scenic and historic area of Hokkaido.
The Sailors will also participate in a basketball game with Otaru locals as a part of the ship's community relations events.
"Our Sailors are lucky to have an opportunity like this," said Cmdr. Justin Harts, commanding officer of Benfold. "This is our first port visit as a forward deployed destroyer. It will be beneficial to our Sailors to see more of the country and interact with the good people of Japan."
Following the visit to Otaru, Benfold will return to sea on a planned patrol in the waters near Japan to support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Search #OTARU2016 to follow this visit on social media.
For more news from Commander Task Force 70, visit www.navy.mil/local/ctf70/.