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Operators Harumi Todaka and Mayumi Fujiyama answer calls Monday at the Navy Japan Telephone Operator Center at Sasebo Naval Base. Callers seeking an operator’s assistance when they dial from Sasebo, Yokosuka Naval Base or Atsugi Naval Air Facility, end up speaking to an operator working here. In addition, Sasebo will soon be handling Guam Navy telephone operator services.
Operators Harumi Todaka and Mayumi Fujiyama answer calls Monday at the Navy Japan Telephone Operator Center at Sasebo Naval Base. Callers seeking an operator’s assistance when they dial from Sasebo, Yokosuka Naval Base or Atsugi Naval Air Facility, end up speaking to an operator working here. In addition, Sasebo will soon be handling Guam Navy telephone operator services. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Calling a base operator or automated relay line to connect to base DSN numbers from commercial telephone lines no longer is necessary.

The Navy Japan Telephone Operator Center here also has done away with separate two-digit prefixes for local and international calls originating from the base. Consequently, users will receive one consolidated bill beginning in October for base phone service and long-distance calls.

“These are really two different projects,” said George Wallman, officer in charge of base communications at Sasebo Naval Base.

Base communications officials are working to get the word out about the new dialing rules that began this month.

The operator center reaches beyond Sasebo.

“If someone is on a Navy facility in Japan, and they dial zero, it’s going to ring here” and be answered by one of 19 operators working various shifts, he added.

Operators no longer sit at local switchboards connecting calls with plugs “like in the old Hitchcock movies,” Wallman said.

Wallman said the U.S. Air Force, Army and Marine Corps installations “do their own thing.” In addition, the system does not serve the Navy populations in Misawa or on Okinawa.

He said the operator system will include U.S. Naval Base Guam next month. Eventually, Wallman added, the center in Sasebo would serve all the Pacific Fleet’s Navy installations.

“In the States, in about ’96, technology progressed to where every telephone operator in the United States was consolidated in Boulder, Colo.,” he said.

“We’re doing pretty much the same sort of thing for Navy here in Japan.

“In Sasebo, we used to have telephone operators at the main base and at Hario Housing Village,” Wallman said. “We’ve had operators at Negishi and Yokosuka. Now in Japan, all the Navy telephone operators are right here in Sasebo.”

Also gone is a six-digit automated relay line in Sasebo. When a caller connected, he or she would receive a second dial tone, then dial the seven-digit base number desired.

“The problem was, as soon as the automated line picked up, they were being charged before dialing the number they wanted to reach, and whether or not they got an answer,” Wallman said.

Using the new Direct Inward Dialing system, for instance, if an off-base caller wants to call DSN 252-3832 on the Sasebo base, they simply dial 50-3832.

From elsewhere in Japan, callers simply add the area code. For instance, to call the Sasebo base, customers would dial 0956-50 followed by the last four digits of the DSN extension.

From the United States, a caller would add the Japan country code and dial 81-956-50 followed by the last four digits of the DSN extension.

“I like it. I like it a lot,” said Maria McAlister, an employee at Sasebo’s Fleet and Family Support Center. “Plus, when people used to try and send us faxes using the old system, they’d try and it wouldn’t come through. Now they come right through. It works perfect.

“Also, it’s much better from home when I need to call someone at my office on base. I can just dial straight in,” she added.

Yokosuka Naval Base has two DID numbers, depending on the Yokosuka prefix you want to call; the two Yokosuka prefixes are 243 and 241.

The Japan commercial area code for all of Yokosuka is 0468, the counterpart to Sasebo’s 0956, Wallman said.

An off-base caller using DID to call a Yokosuka 243 number would dial 16 followed by the last four digits of the DSN extension if they are calling from a 0468 number, he said. If calling from out of the 0468 area or from a cellular phone, they would dial 0468-16 followed by the last four digits of the DSN extension.

The DID number for calling to a Yokosuka 241 prefix is 0468-96 followed by the last four digits of the DSN extension, or 96 followed by the last four digits of the DSN extension if dialing from a 0468 off-base number, Wallman said.

Atsugi Naval Air Facility will have DID soon.

Another benefit reaching telephone customers: users on base needing to call local or international commercial numbers simply use the prefix 99.

On telephone bills each month, the balance for base telephone service and long-distance calls will be combined. Users make one payment and “we reimburse the carriers,” Wallman said.

Call 252-3200 for more information about the telephone services.

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