Educators Tour Historic Sasebo Navy Base

Educators Tour Historic Sasebo Navy Base

by Story and Photos by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David R. Krigbaum
Sasebo Naval Base

Local college educators visited Commander, U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo on Dec. 14, 2016. The educators were from a historic academic working group concerning the establishment of Sasebo as a military port.

Their visit was to help them see the changings of the base’s urban spaces as it developed as a military port and to view the conditions of facilities built by the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Their tour took them through the main base, adjacent shipyard and an ordnance facility and highlighted some of the most historically relevant sites at each. CFAS occupies the former Imperial Japanese Navy Sasebo base and naval arsenal. Opened in 1890 with Emperor Meiji in attendance, the base was one of Japan’s four military ports. Designed by Louis Emil Bertin and using the latest in Western military technology, it was part of Japan’s larger modernization program after the end of the feudal Edo period just two decades prior.

Sasebo possesses a collection of red brick warehouses from this era, some of which were standing the day the Sasebo Chinjufu was commissioned. Once common sights at the former navy ports, Sasebo’s warehouses are unique in that an entire street of clustered warehouses have been preserved and are still in use today.

The Maebata ordnance facility was the single largest part of the tour as the facility boasts a collection of historic magazines, warehouses and tunnels dating from 1900 until the end of World War II, some of which still have their original yet fading wartime camouflage intact.

They were also exposed to some of the base’s non-military related cultural resources as they walked through a bamboo forest hat had once been a village before the area was taken over by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Today the stone foundations of homes and terraces remain amidst the trees and bamboo stalks. Sasebo possesses 175 archeological or historic cultural sites, which is among the highest concentration on a U.S. Navy base in Japan.

“This visit illustrates the cooperative engagement between the United States and Japan in the realm of cultural resource management and illustrates the good working relationships we have cultivated,” said Valerie Curtis, Commander, Navy Region Japan cultural resources manager.

Sasebo’s locations are among the thousand cultural resources within the Navy’s installations in Japan that span the entire human occupation of islands. This includes documents, buildings, structures, artifacts and archeological sites. The cultural resources program also encourages the appreciation of the local culture through the sharing of information in public education programs.

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