Support our mission
The Strongman Contest featured contestants pulling a security vehicle Sunday, including Fireman Joshua Soderberg from the USS Stennis. He said it was such fun he’s like to do it again.

The Strongman Contest featured contestants pulling a security vehicle Sunday, including Fireman Joshua Soderberg from the USS Stennis. He said it was such fun he’s like to do it again. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

The Strongman Contest featured contestants pulling a security vehicle Sunday, including Fireman Joshua Soderberg from the USS Stennis. He said it was such fun he’s like to do it again.

The Strongman Contest featured contestants pulling a security vehicle Sunday, including Fireman Joshua Soderberg from the USS Stennis. He said it was such fun he’s like to do it again. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

The Power Pitching Contest at Sasebo Naval Base measured the speed of pitches thrown by contestants including Petty Officer 3rd Class Shane Waddell of the USS Stennis. Waddell’s pitch was clocked at 66 miles per hour.

The Power Pitching Contest at Sasebo Naval Base measured the speed of pitches thrown by contestants including Petty Officer 3rd Class Shane Waddell of the USS Stennis. Waddell’s pitch was clocked at 66 miles per hour. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

There was a lot of waiting for those needing cash from Sasebo Naval Base's ATM machines Monday afternoon.

There was a lot of waiting for those needing cash from Sasebo Naval Base's ATM machines Monday afternoon. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The visiting sailors here from the USS Stennis Carrier Strike Group are taking advantage of the leisure-time activities organized by base officials.

The USS Stennis, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a crew of about 6,200; the USS Howard, with about 380 crew members; and the USNS Rainier, with 176 civilian and 59 military crew members, arrived Saturday for a port call. Officials won’t confirm when the Stennis is leaving port, but special activities are planned through Tuesday night.

Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Navy Exchange and other personnel in Sasebo spent much of the past few weeks planning for the influx of sailors.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Gustavo Ortiz, from the Stennis, strolled out of the NEX main store carrying two boxes and a big shopping bag full of souvenirs Monday. The boxes each contained a samurai sword.

“I’ve never been to Japan before, and I like these as souvenirs,” Ortiz said. “I like it here, and I actually thought about trying to get stationed out here one time.

“I had to work the first day here, but I went to the club last night (Galaxies Club) and had a good time. I’m planning on taking a tour into Nagasaki next, probably Tuesday,” he added.

Many visiting sailors are interested in the tours, said Mike Rodriguez, MWR’s Travel and Tours Office director. He spent much of Monday distributing flyers and answering questions about all that’s available in and around Sasebo.

“They’ve really been filling up for the tours we’ve planned … by the busload,” he said. “The Liberty launches bring them to the Fleet Landing. They catch us there and come right over looking for something they’d like to see.”

Rodriguez said some of the most popular tour destinations are Nagasaki, Beppu and its famous natural hot springs, Kumamoto and Sasebo city.

“They’ve come back saying they loved the trips … they’ve really enjoyed the bubbling hot springs in Beppu. Most of them are taking the tours or just relaxing on base, having a good meal or a cold beer.”

Harbor View Club manager Kevin Duggan and staff served about double the normal crowd each dining period.

“Overall, things have really picked up. At our Sunday Champagne Brunch, we had a large crowd,” he said. “It wasn’t quite double our usual crowd but a significant increase, and our bars have been a big hit.

“They’ve enjoyed themselves, and also we’ve really enjoyed serving them and seeing all the new faces,” he said, adding that another big crowd was expected Tuesday night for dinner and “Comedy Night” with comedians Mark Yafee and Tommy Savitt.

The outdoor activities were to continue through Tuesday night. Softball and basketball tournaments started during the weekend along with skill challenges in strength, golf, even pitching a baseball.

Stennis Fireman Joshua Soderberg was harnessed to a security department vehicle as he strained to pull it down the street during a Strongman Challenge.

“I had fun doing it, and I loved it,” Soderberg said. “I was actually the first and only person to sign up, then I talked with a couple of other guys and I convinced them to sign up. I’d do it again.”

Visiting golfers tested their swing in the Golf Challenge. Petty Officer 3rd Class Todd Mullis from the Stennis hit a drive electronically measured at 277 yards.

As for the port call, his mind remained on golf.

“I’ve been to Japan before. I’ve also started collecting golf balls from courses in different parts of the world. I plan to go to a course around here,” Mullis added.

The Stennis is deployed in the western Pacific Ocean after taking part in a series of exercises in Alaska and Hawaii. The Stennis and USS Kitty Hawk carrier strike groups completed the Joint Air and Sea Exercise 2004 on Aug. 15. Both carriers also have taken part in the Summer Pulse ’04 exercise.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up