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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — More than 40,000 people are expected to visit Yokosuka Naval Base on Sunday to celebrate Friendship Day, Yokosuka’s largest open-base event.

While they meander through vendor stalls and see the docked ships on base, another 400,000 people will be celebrating outside the gate as part of Yokosuka City’s Kaikoku festival, organizers say.

The base’s Friendship Day was created to bring Japanese and Americans together and to show a well-rounded view of the Navy community, organizers say. While the right mix of events is important to achieve that goal, they say, security is paramount and takes months of planning.

“Force protection is a big concern for us,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Peter Donaldson, a master-at-arms and leading petty officer for antiterrorism and physical security. “It’s a feat to do this.”

Security planning includes where to put physical barriers to manage the flow of people, how to monitor crowds and how to ensure first aid is available.

In the final days before the event, barriers will be erected, parking lots closed off, about 50 booths set up and traffic rerouted around the festival site.

On Sunday, security is to start before visitors even arrive on base, base officials said.

Normal gates will be open for ID card holders and their guests. Other visitors will enter through a special gate from Mikasa Park used just for open base events. Japanese police will provide the initial security screening with metal detectors at the entrance.

On the base, military working dogs and foot and vehicle patrols will offer additional security for the tens of thousands of attendees, along with entertainers, local dance troupes and more than 80 vehicles participating in a classic car show.

On the waterfront, security forces and sailors from port operations will provide security for the 10,000 or so visitors to one of the ships planned for display. Harbor security will be in the area keeping track of the waterways, Donaldson said.

Through it all, security forces will continue routine operations, such as checking for drunken drivers, he added.

While security forms the heart of the effort, almost every command on base pitches in.

“Pretty much every department in MWR is involved,” said Earl Murray, entertainment director for Yokosuka’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation department. “We have single sailors out there volunteering. Everybody who isn’t on watch or on leave will be doing something.”

The Naval Hospital and preventative medicine units will check food, health and sanitary conditions. Vendors “have to let preventative medicine know what they’re selling in advance,” Murray said.

The city of Yokosuka will provide a doctor and nurse to accompany corpsmen and ambulance crewmembers around base.

The fire department provides vendors with fire extinguishers and Naval Facility Far East provides trash containers and portable toilets.

Getting ready for the one-day event literally takes thousands of hours of preparation, Donaldson said.

“It’s a lot of work,” he said, “but you have a sense of accomplishment and a sigh of relief when it’s done.”

If You Go

Sunday is Yokosuka’s biggest open base event, Friendship Day. Usual gates will be open for ID card holders and their guests.

For nonsponsored visitors, the Mikasa Park gate will be open for entry from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; and for exit from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The highlight of the base and Yokosuka city festivals is the fireworks display from 7:40 to 8:10 p.m. and best viewed from base. The city launches the fireworks from U.S. Navy barges in the harbor.

Food, drinks, alcohol, bottles, weapons and pets are not allowed on base.

In addition to static displays — including a ship — the event includes hula dancers, live bands, Japanese geisha dancers, taiko drummers, and plenty of food.

— Juliana Gittler


Stripes in 7



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