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US military bases in Japan brace for 2nd typhoon in 2 weeks

Three different tropical cyclones spinning over the western Pacific Ocean on August 7, 2006 (Wikimedia Commons)

U.S. military bases are preparing for potentially destructive winds and rain as the second typhoon in two weeks barrels toward mainland Japan.

Typhoon Shanshan is projected to pass 80 miles east of Yokosuka and 95 miles east of Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Camp Zama and Yokota Air Base between midnight Wednesday and 2 a.m. Thursday. Destructive 58-mph winds are forecast to extend between 40 and 46 miles west from the storm’s center.

On Tuesday evening, Kanto-area bases were at a Tropical Cyclone Conditions of Readiness 3 — meaning destructive winds were anticipated within 48 hours. At Yokosuka, foggy, gray skies gave way to intermittent rainfall — weather that was foreboding of the coming storm.

Many 7th Fleet ships were sent to sea to avoid the bad weather, said Task Force 70 spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight.

“USS Antietam, USS Benfold and USS Stethem got underway [Monday] and USS Ronald Reagan and USS McCampbell got underway [Tuesday],” he said in an email to Stars and Stripes.

Others, including the USS Blue Ridge, USS John S. McCain and USS Shiloh, cannot ship out because they are undergoing maintenance.

“The remaining vessels in port have taken all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the ships and the crews,” Knight said.

Those precautions include working in coordination with base officials and Yokosuka’s Ship Repair Facility “to ensure that the vessels have extra lines and are securely moored to the pier,” “all loose and moveable items are secured” and “the ships are moved to the piers that offer the most protection,” he added.

Essential personnel will ride out the storm inside the ships at port, and tug boats and pilots will be available throughout the storm should a vessel need help, Knight said.

“Task Force 70 is closely monitoring the track of … Shanshan and will ensure that our units and our personnel have taken every appropriate measure to weather the storm,” he said.

The ships also sortied less than two weeks ago ahead of Typhoon Jongdari, which ended up passing about 110 miles southwest of Yokosuka on July 28, with minimal effects, such as downed tree limbs and blown-away yard items.

In an interview Monday with AFN Tokyo, Yokosuka base commander Capt. Jeffrey Kim said Shanshan is stronger than Jongdari based on the forecast.

“I want everyone in our community to be ready,” he said.

During TCCOR-3, the Navy suggests double checking supplies such as drinking water and nonperishable foods. It also suggests putting away loose outside items, such as bikes, garden equipment, grills and toys.

“It will blow away or cause damage if not taken care of,” the Navy said in an online document explaining TCCOR to USS Shiloh sailors.

The commissary and Navy Exchange parking lots were full throughout the day with long lines of customers inside piling provisions into their carts.

Yokosuka began canceling community activities, such as the National Night Out scheduled for Tuesday, when the TCCOR-3 was issued.


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