The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force training vessel Kashima dropped anchor on Saipan last Wednesday, Oct. 14, and will be at the Saipan port until today, Oct. 16. This is the first time that the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel has visited Saipan.
According to a statement from the Consular Office of Japan on Saipan, the purpose of Kashima’s visit is to train and provide experience to new officers by disembarking on an overseas mission and that Kashima had just come from Nome and Anchorage in Alaska, and Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and is on Saipan for the purpose of resupply and refueling.
Ship activities has been limited due to the current situation with COVID-19 pandemic but the Consular Office of Japan on Saipan, the Japanese Society of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Japan Saipan Travel Association, the Saipan Awaodori Team and Traditional Carolinian and Chamorro dancers have hosted a welcoming ceremony at Charlie Dock for the vessel.
According to the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force chair Warren Villagomez, the military ship’s personnel are not able to step foot on the island due to the COVID-19 protocols that are in place, which means that they would need to go through quarantine and testing if they disembark from the ship. Additionally, inspection is at its highest level due to COVID-19 so no one gets off the ship unless they have gone through COVID-19 protocols, Villagomez stated.
Villagomez said that the ship did go through an entry point clearance, which means that the ship provided documentation that will allow them to get cleared by the Commonwealth Port Authority, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., CHCC’s Environmental Health Disease Prevention, and the task force.
The last time that the CNMI had a ship dock at the Port of Saipan in Puerto Rico was the cruise ship, Costa Atlantica, last Jan. 3. The pre-COVID-19 era allowed passengers to get down and tour around the island. The guest on the Costa Atlantica got to swim at Micro Beach in Garapan, jog around American Memorial Park in Garapan, and shop while the ship restocked on supplies and refueled.