USS George Washington sailors learning Japanese culture in preparation for arrival
By ALLISON BATDORFF | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 8, 2008
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — It’s never too early to start working on your Japanese table manners — even when you’re aboard an aircraft carrier in South America.
The crew of the USS George Washington is getting its Japan-based Area Orientation Brief and Inter-Cultural Training aboard the ship while participating in military exercises in South America.
The ship is to arrive in Yokosuka in August to replace the aging USS Kitty Hawk.
To prepare sailors for their new home, two trainers from the base’s Fleet and Family Support Center are spending six weeks aboard the carrier, according to base spokeswoman Michelle Stewart.
Trainers Robert Long and Michael Spiltner are conducting the training and also teaching “extras” like basic Japanese language, table manners, and “Yokoso! Japan,” (translated as “Welcome to Japan”), she said.
They hope to train 2,300 sailors in six weeks, Stewart said. Anyone they miss will take a weeklong class at the Benny Decker Theater after arriving in Yokosuka.
About 700 George Washington sailors also took the written portion of the driver’s exam aboard the ship. Good news for Yokosuka drivers — 85 percent of them passed without even seeing a Japanese road.
CFAY Traffic Safety Officer Russ Tate just returned to Yokosuka after spending 17 days aboard the carrier to conduct over 2,800 hours of traffic safety training, Stewart said.
The new drivers will take their road tests when the ship arrives.