BY LEIAO GEREGA
THE Japan Maritime Self Defence Force destroyer, JS Sazanami, has arrived in Port Moresby for a three day friendship and goodwill port call after a month’s voyage from Darwin.
Despite the rain, the 4650-ton ship and its 170 naval officers were welcomed by the Japanese Embassy staff and the PNG Defense Force military band.
Japanese Ambassador Sotoshi Nakajima said visit is the first after four years and is an important occasion to promote the relations shared between the two countries.
“Sazanami’s visit symbolises the growing partnership between our two countries as well as the two defense forces,” Mr Nakajima said, referring to the upskilling of PNG’s military band in the past two years by the JDF.
Sazanami voyaged for a month from Darwin following a multi-national naval exercise with 27 countries across the Indo-Pacific region.
The name “Sazanami” means ripples of wave and Mr Nakajima hopes the port call by Sazanami will make a “long lasting ripples of confidence, trust and friendship between Japan, PNG and other countries she visits.”
Commanding officer of the destroyer of JMSDF, Shoji Ishikawa said although the visit is brief they hope to extend a good and long lasting relation with PNG.
The port call, says Commander Ishikawa, is a historical moment for him due to the history of the WW2.
“The name Port Moresby was very impressive for me because in World War 2 we try to occupy this city but cannot, and so I cannot imagine coming for port call here, I can’t believe it,” he said.
The rain and cold weather has been a surprise for the crew who pictured PNG to be a warm temperate country.
Cmndr Ishikawa said: “I know Papua New Guinea is very hot but (arriving here) it’s very cold.”
At least three officers out of the 170 have already visited the country in previous port calls and Capt Ishikawa says they are looking forward to a wonderful stay.
During a tour with the ambassador and guests, the ship was discovered to be equipped with radar, sonar, 127 mm gun, vertical launching system and a helicopter controlled by powerful and modern system.
The first Japanese destroyer Sazanami of 1899 was used during the Russo-Japanese War and this is the fourth ship of the Takanami-class.
Next, Sazanami will visit Honiara, the Solomon Islands, before returning to Japan in October. She left home in August.