SAPPORO, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors stationed at U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa and its tenant commands completed a U.S. Navy diver snow sculpture at the 68th annual 2017 Sapporo Snow Festival, Feb. 5.
This was the 34th consecutive year the Navy has sent a team to create a Navy-themed sculpture and participate in the festival.
The team spent five days using hand tools which included chisels, hatchets, handsaws, and knives to cut, shape, and smooth a 10-by-10 block of compacted snow into a replica of a vintage U.S. Navy diver on the seafloor.
"I have built everything from roads to bridges to schools, but never an ice sculpture," said Chief Builder Frank Ring, the team's senior enlisted leader. "It had its challenges, but I am extremely proud of the work this group put into it and the final product we had to represent the U.S. Navy."
Along with the actual diver, the team sculpted "U.S. Navy" in large ice letters along the base of the block, as well as the word "diver" across the top. Creativity came into play when the team added a treasure chest and octopus to the sculpture on the last day of sculpting.
"Coming into the Navy I would have never guessed that I could receive an assignment like this," said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Gabriele Tate-Santos, from Baltimore, attached to Naval Air Facility Misawa and lead artist for the project. "Painting is my artistic background, but sculpting wasn't too far off in terms of depth and creating a project that provides the viewer an experience they won't forget."
The team talked about their sculpture while visiting and taking photos with thousands of festival goers throughout the week.
One special guest stopped by to congratulate the team on their successful endeavor and wish them a job well done -- none other than Commander, Navy Region Japan, Rear Adm. Matthew Carter.
During the team's stay in Sapporo they are once again being hosted by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
Along with Ring and Tate-Santos, this year's all-Navy snow sculpting team is also comprised of Builder 1st Class Thomas Thornton, from Chicopee, Massachusetts; Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ben Larscheid, from De Pere, Wisconsin; Seaman Desiree Ankney, from Hicksville, Ohio; Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Apolinar Nebria, from Long Beach, California; Seaman Jeffrey Postal, from Shawnee, Oklahoma; Seaman Andy Chazerreta, from Fort Worth, Texas; and Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Samuel Weldin, from Columbia, South Carolina.
There are many snow sculpting teams from around the world who participate in the festival every year. JGSDF and the city of Sapporo create some of the largest sculptures measuring more than 40 feet high and 80 feet wide.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/nafmisawa/.