CNFJ issues restrictions at Yokosuka in bid to curb alcohol abuse
January 21, 2006
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — All Yokosuka-based Navy personnel, civilians and dependents were cut off from late-night drinking in Yokosuka on Thursday by a general order signed by Rear Adm. James Kelly, Commander Naval Forces Japan.
And all active-duty servicemembers in the Kitty Hawk Strike Group — the Navy’s largest — are under a 1 a.m. curfew ordered by Rear Adm. Doug McClain, the strike group commander.
According to the order Kelly signed Thursday, drinking in establishments on Yokosuka Naval Base must cease at midnight Sunday through Thursday and at 2 a.m. on weekends and holidays. Off-base rules are stricter for area bars, restaurants and public places, where the ban kicks in at 11 p.m. during the week and 1 a.m. on weekends and holidays.
Among those affected by the 1 a.m. curfew: Active-duty servicemembers on the USS Kitty Hawk and its air wing at Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Destroyer Squadron 15 and several vessels at Yokosuka Naval Base including USS Chancellorsville and USS Cowpens.
All personnel subject to the curfew must be back on base or in their off-base residences by 1 a.m.
In ordering the drinking restrictions, Kelly cited the recent spate of alcohol-related crime as the reason for his action.
William Reese, a Navy airman from the USS Kitty Hawk is in Japanese police custody in connection with the Jan. 3 beating death of a 56-year-old Yokosuka woman. Early Wednesday morning, USS McCain sailor Arlon Baker was arrested and accused of breaking into a Yokosuka junior high school. Both men were intoxicated, according to Japanese police reports.
“Alcohol abuse in particular continues to be a root cause of nearly all incidents of inappropriate conduct,” Kelly said in a news release. “We must change this fact.”
Frequency and numbers of shore and off-base patrols have been beefed up to enforce the new policy, the release stated, adding that there also will be more Navy policing in neighborhoods close to the base.
The restriction applies only to alcohol consumption, said CNFJ spokesman John Wallach. If those covered by the drinking restrictions but not covered by the curfew “want to sit on a bar stool in the Honch till 5 a.m. drinking Coke, that’s fine,” he said.
Navy police patrols made their way through Yokosuka’s Honch nightlife district Thursday, breaking the news to those in the many bars there.
The alcohol ban is a “smart idea” during the week but extending it through the weekend is “pushing it,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony Merlotte.
“Sunday through Thursday makes sense — that will keep us on our toes for work,” he said. “But Fridays and Saturdays — that means more people will start drinking earlier.”
Honch bartender Anastasiya Bandarenka predicted people likely will just move their drinking to barracks rooms and private houses. That will be bad for bars’ business, she said, adding, “I think it’s rather foolish to believe that people will stop drinking just because of an order.”