Task Force 76 invokes liberty stand-down at Sasebo
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Task Force 76 issued a liberty and behavior stand-down Tuesday, calling it a measure to increase awareness of responsible behavior in Japan.
One aspect of the stand-down is to suspend overnight absences for the duration for ship-based sailors ranked E-4 and below who earned that privilege through 7th Fleet’s Exceptional Sailor Program, officials indicated.
All sailors in TF-76 in effect are ship-based or members of other seagoing units.
During the stand-down, all TF-76 sailors E-4 and below will be restricted to the base from 11:59 p.m. to 5 a.m., including those in the Exceptional Sailor Program, said Lt. Edward Sisk, TF-76 spokesman.
Seventh Fleet sailors ranked E-4 to E-1 already get a white liberty card stating they must be on base from 11:59 p.m. until 5 a.m. Sailors can earn a blue liberty card allowing overnight absences if they qualify through the Exceptional Sailor Program. But that program will pause for TF-76 sailors during the stand-down, the spokesman said.
No date has been set for the restriction to end, he said.
Sisk said the stand-down is not a reaction to liberty incidents but to “review the effectiveness of TF-76’s liberty program and make sure it’s aligned with 7th Fleet’s policy.”
“From time to time,” he said, “commands conduct such stand-downs to review policies, guidance and raise the priority of critical issues.”
“Our goal is to have an effective liberty program and instill a culture of unwavering professionalism on and off duty,” he added. “It’s not about time but about a process.”
Capt. Mark Donahue, senior officer present afloat, Commander Amphibious Squadron 11, issued orders for the stand-down for ship crews and other seagoing commands such as Assault Craft Unit Five, Sasebo’s hovercraft detachment and Assault Craft Unit One, a landing craft utility detachment.
“Leadership also wants to drive home the message that being stationed in Japan is a privilege and with privilege comes responsibility. ... One liberty incident is one too many,” Sisk added.
The stand-down requires all commands under the TF-76 umbrella to review their liberty programs, ensure they’re aligned with 7th Fleet’s and brief all personnel on their responsibilities as American ambassadors, Sisk said.
“We will then take all the lessons learned and best practices for dissemination to all commands under TF-76. Once all this process is complete, we will finish the liberty and behavior stand-down,” he said.
Sailors E-4 and below assigned to Sasebo’s shore command are not subject to the curfew.
However, base skipper Capt. Tilghman D. Payne is holding a series of working meetings through Friday with shore units to stress the importance of liberty issues and understanding Japanese culture. The meetings also are to encourage feedback.
7th Fleet Exceptional Sailor Program
A review board comprising ship or shore command leaders reviews requirements and recommends sailors. The ship or shore commander decides if a sailor should be deemed an exceptional sailor and is qualified for a blue liberty card that allows overnight absences from the ship or base. Qualifications include:
Must have served in unit for three months (for sea duty, on his or her ship for three months).Must not have incurred non-judicial punishment in the past six months, including time at a previous command.Has completed all job-specific training qualifications.Completes the Naval Alcohol Training Program.Has sustained superior military bearing and grooming.Demonstrates mature behavior and Navy core values.Source: Task Force 76, Sasebo Naval Base, Japan
Recent incidents off post in Sasebo
July 22:Seaman Derrick K. Udeze, 21, from the USS Essex, was arrested. Police said Udeze and an unidentified accomplice are accused of snatching a 21-year-old woman’s wallet as she walked along a Sasebo city street. The case still is being investigated. No charges have been filed and Udeze remains in Japanese custody.
July 8:Two Sasebo sailors were arrested, accused of injuring a Japanese man near a fish market. Sasebo city police arrested Petty Officer 2nd Class Roy Collins, 23, from Sasebo’s security department, and Seaman Recruit Lamarco V. James, 19, from Beachmaster Unit One, Western Pacific Detachment. Collins paid a fine of 100,000 yen (about $890) on July 22. Charges against James were dropped.
June 3:Chief Petty Officer Terry Lynn Pace, 39, hit the rear of a van stopped at a traffic signal about 12:30 a.m.. The van’s driver, a 45-year-old Japanese man, was treated for minor injuries. Sasebo Naval Base security officers took Pace from the accident location to the Navy Branch Medical Clinic. Pace was fined 400,000 yen (about $3,650) in summary court June 24 on charges of professional negligence resulting in bodily injuries and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Compiled by Greg Tyler and Hana Kusumoto