By MC2 Jeffrey Troutman, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii
Gen Nakatani, the Japanese minister of defense, visited and toured the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73), Nov. 23, and spoke with the ship’s commanding officer and personnel about the U.S. Navy’s ballistic missile defense systems.
The ship tour was part of Nakatani’s visit to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to engage with Navy officials and learn more about the Aegis ballistic missile defense system (ABMD).
“I want to thank you for having me and my staff aboard your ship and taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us about ABMD,” said Nakatani through a translator.
“I’m here to visit with you to learn more about your missile defense systems and how they help keep our countries safe from enemy threats,” he said.
Capt. Adolfo Ibarra, commanding officer of Port Royal, welcomed Nakatani and his staff aboard the ship and saw their visit as an opportunity to strengthen coalition ties.
“It is our pleasure to have yet another member of the coalition visit our ship,” Ibarra said. “Previously we were visited by the Japanese training squadron and also the Japanese amphibious squadron, who engaged in several training events with our crew before they headed to San Diego.”
Ibarra was joined by Cmdr. John Lipps, the commanding officer of the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands on the island of Kauai, who spoke with Nakatani about the ABMD located ashore.
Lipps said he was grateful for the opportunity to meet with Nakatani to help him better understand the ABMD ashore systems.
“The minister of defense wasn’t going to be able to make it out to Kauai during his visit to see the ABMD, so I’m thankful for the opportunity afforded by Capt. Ibarra and his crew to come here to speak to him [Nakatani] about our ballistic missile defense systems,” Lipps said.
Nakatani’s visit to Pearl Harbor also included a tour of the Military Sealift Command’s sea-based X-band radar, a wreath-laying ceremony at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) and a dinner reception with Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet.