Statement on recent trip to Japan

Adm. John Richardson,
Commentary Chief of Naval Operations

Office of Chief of Naval Operations

On June 20, MCPON (Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy) and I visited Japan where we attended the outbound dignified transfer of our seven fallen shipmates and spent time with [USS] Fitzgerald Sailors and families.

The outpouring of support by the Yokosuka and broader community has been stunning. Everything from toothpaste and uniforms to financial assistance has been offered and we are very grateful to all who are helping this team get back to fighting trim.

We also met with supporting teams that were critical to the effort — the Yokosuka Port Operations, tug crews, divers and workers who were absolutely essential to recovering the ship, an amazingly selfless team of American and Japanese workers who made such a difference.

The most important was the chance to visit the leaders from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japanese Coast Guard. I personally thanked them for their assistance. Our partnership with the Japanese is very strong and growing stronger. They were deeply sorry for the losses suffered.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, center right, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, top right, commander U.S. 7th Fleet, and Rear Adm. Greg Fenton, commander of Naval Forces Japan, meet with Adm. Yutaka Murakawa, chief of staff, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), Vice Adm. Kazuki Yamashita, commander-in-chief, Self-Defense Fleet, and Rear Adm. Kazutoshi Miyazato, chief, Yokosuka Coast Guard office. Photo by MC2 Richard L.J. Gourley

Our immediate focus is to do all we can to properly recognize our fallen shipmates, take care of the Fitz family and begin to put the ship back together.

There are multiple U.S. and Japanese investigations underway to determine the facts of the collision.

Our goal is to learn all we can to prevent future accidents from occurring. This process will unfold as quickly as possible, but it’s important to get this right. We need to protect the integrity of those proceedings. Speculation, rumors, hearsay or second guessing won’t be helpful. Let the investigations run their courses.

Again, thanks to all for the thoughts and prayers and offers of support. It is good to see the Navy Team come together to help Fitz and others move forward.

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Category: News