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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Living under a 1 a.m. curfew didn’t make a huge difference in David Williams’ social life, but he’s still glad the rule expired Saturday.

“It’s one less thing to worry about,” said Williams, a petty officer third class on the USS Lassen. “Even though I’m usually home pretty early.”

Rear Adm. Douglas McClain rescinded his “off-the streets by 1 a.m.” curfew this weekend for the 8,500 sailors in the Kitty Hawk Strike Group.

The Jan. 24 policy came in the wake of several alcohol-related incidents in Yokosuka, including the Jan. 3 robbery-murder of a Yokosuka woman by a USS Kitty Hawk airman.

But McClain’s other liberty policies — including submitting weekly liberty plans and a liberty buddy system — still are in effect, said strike group spokesman Lt. Cmdr. John Bernard. That means all strike group sailors, regardless of rank, must have a buddy with them anytime drinking is involved, even if it’s just a glass of wine at dinner. Sailors younger than 20 must be with liberty buddies after 9 p.m., drinking or not.

“Some of the procedures stayed in place because they simply are good ideas,” Bernard said. It “makes good sense” to require liberty buddies anytime drinking is involved, he said.

These “less visible” policies already are making a difference in the number of incidents, Bernard said.

Seventh Fleet also will lift the curfew for its personnel, but it will keep its liberty-card program in which sailors get more privileges depending on conduct and length of service, said Lt. Steve Curry, a 7th Fleet spokesman.

“Good conduct ashore sustains good relations, builds trust and confidence with our host nation,” read a 7th Fleet statement issued Monday. “If [sailors] choose to misbehave, they will be caught and dealt with accordingly.”

Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Reeves was surprised that the policy was lifted at all, given the tendency to make behavior policies permanent, he said.

“The curfew mainly affects the new guys who are away from home for the first time and go crazy,” Reeves said. “But the policies do cause more problems for the people who have been here for a while and genuinely like the culture.”


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