The U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) pulled into the port of Shimoda, Japan, May 17, to celebrate the 80th annual Black Ship Festival.
The festival commemorates the 165th anniversary of the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry and the signing of the Japan-American Treaty of Trade and Amity June 17, 1854, which opened trade opportunities with Japan.
“The opportunity for our crew to celebrate the 80th Black Ship Festival symbolizes the friendship between our two nations,” said Cmdr. Jeff W. Benson, commanding officer of Stethem. “The events planned strengthen our bond with the Shimoda community and further advance our military alliance in the region.”
Stethem Sailors will join Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sailors from JS Hirado (MSO-305) and members of the Shimoda community in multiple events including tours of the city, visits to local elementary schools, beach volleyball games, concerts, and a parade.
“This festival is interesting because it has such a strong historical background,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Zachary Desjardins, a Stethem crew member. “It’s a great opportunity for a cultural exchange between us and the people of Shimoda and to have a positive impact on our host country.”
The city of Shimoda hosts the event in mid-May each year and draws tourists from all over Japan. USS Stethem is forward-deployed to Japan, and routinely operates throughout the Indo-Pacific to support regional security and stability.
Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeremy Graham, USS Stethem (DDG 63)