Yokosuka alcohol policy likely to remain in effect
May 3, 2006
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — An alcohol policy is making a “dramatic” impact on sailor behavior around Yokosuka Naval Base and may stay around for a while, according to Commander, Naval Forces Japan officials.
Alcohol-related incidents in Yokosuka were halved in the past month, dropping from an average of 14 per month to seven, CNFJ Regional Master Chief Luis Cruz told the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program summit at Yokosuka last week.
“The data reflects that it’s working, no doubt,” Cruz said. “The trend is hitting rock bottom.”
The policy prohibits Navy personnel in Yokosuka from drinking alcohol in public from midnight to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 6 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays. On-base drinking stops an hour later, at 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends and holidays.
The policy was enacted this January after a spate of alcohol-related U.S. Navy crimes, including the Jan. 3 robbery-killing of a 56-year-old Yokosuka woman. A USS Kitty Hawk airman has admitted to the killing.
The general order first encompassed all nonmilitary personnel and spouses at Yokosuka Naval Base; a revision narrowed the scope to only active-duty military.
Since January, there have been 113 alcohol-related incidents with Navy personnel in Japan.
These include everything from “a shoving match inside a bar to getting stopped for drunk driving,” CNFJ spokesman Cmdr. John Wallach said.
“The majority of the incidents are little blips and nothing major. But if it happens and it involves alcohol, we count it,” Wallach said.
The shrinking number of incidents likely means the policy will stay around, he said. CNFJ commanding officer Rear Adm. James Kelly just revisited the policy in March and does so monthly, Wallach said.
“The policy is working so our thought is that it’s going to stay in place,” Wallach said.
Bulked-up shore patrols in Yokosuka’s Honch nightlife district also are making a difference, he added.
“The shore patrol can intervene before it gets out of hand, can say ‘you’ve had too much to drink,’ and take the sailor back to his command,” Wallach said.