BY TINA C. STILLIONS
OFFICE OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS
NAVSUP FLEET LOGISTICS CENTER YOKOSUKA
NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) celebrated the 50th anniversary of their joint internship program July 28.
The program was created back in the 60s as a training opportunity for young JMSDF officers to develop logistics skills from their U.S. Navy counterparts.
In 1969, Masao Hirami was the ninth intern in the program. At the time, he worked in the physical distribution department. Though time has dimmed some of those early memories, he fondly recalled the U.S. support officers and the early days of the internship program.
“It’s been 50 years since the program started. I was one of the first interns back then,” said Hirami, speaking to a room of current JMSDF and U.S. Navy officers, and intern alumni. “The program is fundamental for the foreign cooperation between navies and for joint logistics. I believe at the root of logistics is mutual trust. I want to express my deep appreciation for acceptance of this program and I hope it continues for the next 50 years.”
To date, there have been 187 interns pass through the program. Every seven months, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka welcomes an intern from the JMSDF into the operations department. From there, the intern rotates throughout the command, shadowing their U.S. Navy counterparts and learning logistics best practices.
Director of Operations Cmdr. Michael Schilling said the internship program strengthens the bilateral partnership between the two nations.
“We teach the Japanese supply officers the skillsets that make the U.S. Navy Supply Corps such an outstanding force,” said Schilling. “The JMSDF interns work alongside our supply officers and develop their logistic talents to benefit and bond our organizations. They learn our logistical processes and we learn theirs. It provides opportunities to borrow strength in unity.”
Though he was unable to attend the celebration in person, a letter of appreciation from JMSDF Chief of Staff Adm. Yutaka Murakawa was presented to NAVSUP FL Yokosuka Commanding Officer Capt. Jeffery Davis for his continuing support of the program. Murakawa went through the program and was an intern in 1986. In his prepared statement, Murakawa said he looked to the next 50 years, in the field of logistics, to deepen the ties and to improve the effectiveness of U.S. and Japan joint missions.
“As I participated in the program in 1986, my most lasting memory was how Sailors in the U.S. Navy were committed to their jobs with consideration for naval surface units,” said Murakawa. “I am determined that all my officers who participate in the program have the spirit of what U.S. Navy officers possess in their logistics support units and that the JMSDF officers will learn much in the early stage of their careers.”
Davis accepted the letter from the JMSDF on behalf of the U.S. Navy.
“Our relationship with Japan is one of the most important we have around the globe,” said Davis. “The internship program is an example of the strength of that relationship. I’d like to thank Adm. Murakawa because he reflected the importance of the program to the U.S. Navy and the JMSDF and to the development of future logisticians.”