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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sailors here will have an easier time signing friends in to the base enlisted club, now that a new entrance has opened directly into the establishment’s complex.

“Now you can bring in your friends without having to go through the main gate,” said Nette Hoot, club operations director for Yokosuka’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation department.

Before the new entrance opened in late March, servicemembers had to sign guests in to the base at the pass office inside Carney Gate, a somewhat lengthy process.

The new club access allows sailors to sign guests into a logbook but the guests do not need a pass. They enter directly into the club from the street and cannot continue onto the base from there, Hoot said.

Officials said sponsors must always accompany their guests, who must have a driver’s license or passport if they are Japanese or a passport or alien registration card, if they are non-Japanese.

The club access was halted in 1996, when all U.S. overseas installations heightened their security following the attack on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, base officials said.

Sailors since have asked for the door to be reopened, Hoot said. “We’ve been working on this since about four years ago,” she said.

The door is open to those with ranks of petty officer first class and below from 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Many ships assigned to Yokosuka now are at sea so foot traffic into the club is relatively light, Hoot said.

The base can decide if demand warrants opening the gate more nights of the week, said Master Chief David Moffett, assistant base security officer. Moffett said he couldn’t discuss force-protection levels on base but added that security needs from a potential rise in visitors to the club were taken into account. In addition, he said, ships have shore patrols permanently assigned to the club.

If a disturbance involving sailors occurs, military police would be summoned; if the disturbance involved a Japanese national, local police would be called, he added.

The easier access helps sailors show off their club to nonmilitary friends, Hoot said. The club complex houses a microbrewery, Italian restaurant, lounge, club, ballroom, sports bar and Single Sailor annex. A major draw is Club Alliance, the “A” Club, for junior sailors. A beer in the club costs $1.50, compared to 500 yen, roughly $5, in town.

The new entrance is to the left of the main gate, behind the police box on the side of the club.

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