NAVAL AIR FACILITY MISAWA, Japan — About 90 additional Navy personnel and almost as many family members now call this northern Japan base home after the Navy relocated its Kamiseya, Japan, headquarters for maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations in the Pacific and Middle East.

As part of the realignment, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing One was redesignated Patrol and Reconnaissance Force Seventh Fleet and Patrol and Reconnaissance Force Fifth Fleet.

“We’re fully operational,” said Rear Adm. Kenneth W. Deutsch, commander of Patrol and Reconnaissance Force for the 7th, 5th and Air Western Pacific fleets.

Deutsch relieved Capts. Fred E. Smith and Martin Church in October as part of a Chief of Naval Operations-directed realignment of forward-deployed naval forces.

The consolidation places the responsibility for three commands under a flag officer and moves the control center to Misawa for Navy P-3C patrol aircraft and EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft in the western Pacific and Persian Gulf.

The aircraft operate out of Misawa; Kadena Air Base, Okinawa; Diego Garcia island and the Persian Gulf.

“Their purpose here in the western Pacific is to protect the United States’ and our allies’ interests in support of the 7th Fleet and joint commands throughout the western Pacific,” Deutsch said.

The move to Misawa doesn’t change that mission.

“We’re not changing the lay-down of aircraft and there’s not going to be additional flight hours,” Deutsch said. “It’s an alignment of command and control capability.”

The Patrol and Reconnaissance Force Pacific headquarters staff is comprised of about 30 officers and 60 enlisted personnel. It operates three tactical support centers at Kadena and Misawa air bases and Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia. These centers use command, control and communications equipment to support deployed P-3 and EP-3 squadrons.

Officials said the move to Misawa will consolidate operations and reduce the burden of base facilities in Japan.

“This increases joint utilization of key facilities,” Deutsch said. “We just made use of an existing facility. Kamiseya needed significant repairs if we were going to stay there.”

The Navy has not announced plans for Naval Support Facility Kamiseya, which occupies 587 acres northeast of Atsugi Naval Air Facility.

Deutsch said the Navy newcomers have found housing, with a handful choosing to live off base.

“Housing here was not a problem,” he said. “The Air Force had acceptable housing for everybody.”

Misawa is an Air Force base with a large Navy population that includes several tenant commands. Deutsch is the highest-ranking Navy official on base.

Fleet Air Western Pacific will remain at Atsugi.

The area of responsibility for Patrol and Reconnaissance Force Seventh Fleet, also known as Task Force 72, includes the Pacific Ocean west of the international dateline to the east coast of Africa, excluding the Middle East.

Patrol and Reconnaissance Force Fifth Fleet — or Task Force 57 — is responsible for the Middle East, including the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea and Gulf of Oman.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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