Ohayo gozaimasu. I’m Captain John Howard, commanding officer of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS WASP, and I would like to thank you for coming today to welcome WASP to Japan.
My crew and I are very excited to arrive in Sasebo to join the Forward Deployed Naval Forces. For more than 50 years, the U.S.-Japan alliance has been the foundation of peace and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and the cornerstone of U.S. engagement in the region. We aim to foster and strengthen that bond with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the local community.
The addition of WASP provides greater capability and capacity in all mission areas to forward deployed U.S. forces. The WASP is a multi-purpose amphibious assault ship that not only is a launch pad for the Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, but can also be used to bring critical supplies ashore using both rotary wing and landing craft. Such life-saving capabilities were most recently demonstrated during humanitarian relief efforts after both hurricanes Irma and Maria. These capabilities and more support the United States’ commitment to the defense of Japan and the security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Thank you again for welcoming us to your wonderful city. We look forward to exploring and learning about the Japanese culture. I will now take your questions.