Another era of Dietrich under way at Yokosuka
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — After three tumultuous years at the helm of the Navy’s largest overseas installation, Capt. Mike Seifert handed over the reins Friday to Capt. King H. Dietrich, a man whose family is already an integral part of Yokosuka’s history.
Dietrich, most recently the operations officer for the USS George Washington Battle Group staff, is the son of H.T. Dietrich Jr., who commanded Yokosuka from 1974 to 1976.
In fact, King Dietrich was a star wrestler at Kinnick High School before going to college and joining the Navy.
Dietrich relieves the man who steered Yokosuka through an unprecedented period in which the base’s security operations were radically altered after the USS Cole and Sept. 11 attacks. With Seifert in charge, Yokosuka suffered through a spate of liberty incidents involving local sailors, yet also earned recognition as the top base in all of the Navy.
“We arrived in Japan shortly before the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen,” Seifert said in an address to the crowd Friday.
“Our task was to make Yokosuka a harder target. That training was well under way when Sept. 11 happened.”
Exercises had shown the base simply couldn’t operate at Force Protection Condition Delta — the highest state of alert — for more than a few hours, Seifert said.
“But we operated at Delta for three days after the attacks, and at Charlie for many weeks,” Seifert said. “What was impossible became possible.”
Friday’s change of command was held on base in Kosano Park, with hundreds of dignitaries from the U.S. Navy and Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force.
Rear Adm. Robert Chaplin, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Japan, praised Seifert not only for presiding over the operational concerns of 60 tenant commands and the support structure for 11 ships, but also for improvements to base quality of life.
Dietrich now is base commander of the installation his father commanded nearly three decades ago.
“To say this place has changed in the past 28 years would be a remarkable understatement,” Dietrich said. “I hope to continue that tradition and build upon it.”