SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Members of the Commander, U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo community came together to remember the victims of the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake on the event's fifth anniversary, March 11.
The ceremony was held at the base flagpoles where both American and Japanese flags were flown at half-mast to join those of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in mourning.
After a short commemoration by Commander U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo Capt. Matthew Ovios, flowers were laid by Ovios, another Sailor and both American and Japanese civilians at the Japanese flagpole. At 2:46 p.m., five years to the minute that the earthquake began, more than 100 gathered participants observed a moment of silence. As the ceremony ended with a single ring of the installation's bell, sirens from JMSDF vessels and Sasebo City went off to mark the time.
Ovios said he believes it was important that his installation remember those lost in the earthquake.
"Just as we did five years ago, the U.S. Navy will stand in solidarity with the Japanese people to remember those that were lost and to again offer condolences to all who were affected by this tragic event."
The disaster, which is also called the Great East Japan Earthquake, began with an underwater megathrust earthquake whose epicenter was 70 kilometers east of the Tohoku region's Oshika Peninsula and 30 kilometers underwater. The largest earthquake to hit Japan, it triggered tsunami waves that reached up to 133 feet high and travelled as far as 10 kilometers inland.
According to Japan's National Police Agency the earthquake and tsunami resulted in 15,884 deaths, 6, 147 injuries and 2,636 people missing across 20 prefectures.
CFAS enables 13 forward-deployed naval forces and 26 tenant commands across 11 geographic locations, supporting a community of 7,000 Sailors, civilians, and family members. It has received awards for Safety, Environmental, Zumwalt Lodging, Golden Anchor, Food Service, and the 2015 Region Japan Installation of the Year.