NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka reflects on 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake

HACHINOHE, Japan (March 12, 2021) - NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka Commanding Officer Capt. Edward Pidgeon (left) is briefed on Defense Fuel Service Point Hachinohe's operations after the facility was damaged by a tsunami 10 years earlier.
HACHINOHE, Japan (March 12, 2021) - NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka Commanding Officer Capt. Edward Pidgeon (left) is briefed on Defense Fuel Service Point Hachinohe's operations after the facility was damaged by a tsunami 10 years earlier.

NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka reflects on 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake

by Brandon Taylor
NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka

Leaders from Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka visited Defense Fuel Service Point (DFSP) Hachinohe to observe fuel terminal operations 10 years after it was damaged by a tsunami.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 (Mw) earthquake struck off the eastern coast of Japan and triggered a tsunami. The combined disasters tragically resulted in 15,897 deaths, 6,156 injured and 2,533 people missing.

“It’s hard to imagine what was going on here 10 years ago,” said Capt. Edward Pidgeon, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka commanding officer during his visit to DSFP Hachinohe. “We are fortunate to have resilient personnel to continue the mission of this facility. This team is made up of heroes.”

DFSP Hachinohe receives, stores and distributes fuel to support aircraft onboard Misawa Air Base and Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa.

During the visit, Pidgeon and NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Executive Director Timothy Adkins were briefed by DFSP Hachinohe Director James Elliot on recent infrastructure improvements and operations onboard the fuel terminal and were presented photographs of the damage caused by the disaster.

Following the brief, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka leaders had a chance to talk to DFSP Hachinohe’s Japanese civilian employees that lived through the disasters.

A Japanese civilian employee who serves as a fuel laboratory technician recounted his experience. When the employee and his colleagues received warning of the tsunami, they sought refuge on a bridge overlooking the fuel terminal. Minutes after they made it to safety, they witnessed tsunami waters rushing in, making the facility unrecognizable in minutes, sweeping away almost all of the official and personal vehicles and littering the facility with debris from neighboring industries.

The fuel laboratory technician remembered one of his colleagues at a pump station a few miles away from the DFSP Hachinohe main building. With a radio on a dying battery he was able to warn the pump station operator of the incoming waters, who escaped to higher ground with only minutes to spare. The pump station was later under six feet of water.

The water stopped advancing after three hours and the fuel laboratory technician with 14 others were able to leave the bridge in the dark. After assessing the damage onboard DFSP Hachinohe, a government vehicle was found with a functioning radio, the survivors were able to communicate to NAF Misawa that they were all safe and accounted for.

“Our team was in harm’s way and thought first of their duty to check and secure the fuel lines,” said Adkins. “It humbled me knowing I work with professionals who are able to put duty over self and overcome such adversity.”

In the days following the disaster, the DFSP Hachinohe team removed debris, office supplies, surveyed damage and organized high priority repair efforts.

Immediate repairs included the replacement of a security fence and removal of sediment up to one foot deep throughout the fuel terminal. Later repair projects included the restoration of pump stations, the reseating of unearthed fuel lines and the replacement of dry wall, doors, windows, ceilings and eroded soil.

DFSP Hachinohe was restored to fully mission capable in as little as three months.

“We are prepared for future disasters, both professionally and personally,” said one of the Japanese civilian employees,” said Hiromitsu Ichikawa, fuel laboratory technician. “We improved our evacuation procedures and communication framework.”

In addition to the Japanese civilian employees that survived the disaster, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka has U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine and U.S. civilian personnel that participated in Operation Tomodachi, a recovery effort that provided disaster relief to Japan, involving 24,000 personnel, 190 aircraft and 24 naval vessels.

On March 11, 2021, approximately 1200 personnel onboard NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka observed a moment of silence at 2:46pm, Japan standard time, the exact moment the Great East Japan Earthquake struck.

NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka is one of eight FLCs under Commander, NAVSUP. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP’s mission is to provide supplies, services, and quality-of-life support to the Navy and the joint warfighter.

Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Okinawa
Stripes Korea
Stripes Guam

Recommended Content

Around the Web