Fort takes over as commander of Naval Forces Japan, Navy Region Japan

Rear Adm. Gregory J. Fenton, L, shakes hands with Rear Adm. Brian P. Fort, the new commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan during a change of command ceremony at the Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, on July 10, 2019. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

July 10 (UPI) — Rear Adm. Brian Fort was elevated to commander of U.S. Naval Forces Japan in a change of command ceremony Wednesday in Yokosuka, Japan.

Fort, who also serves as commander of Naval Region Japan, relieved Rear Adm. Gregory J. Fenton. Fort will now oversee shore readiness of the fleet, all shore installations and is the primary liaison between the U.S. Navy and Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The change of command comes as U.S. commitment to Japan and the Asia-Pacific region has been questioned. President Donald Trump surprised Japanese leaders in June with a comment that the U.S.-Japan security treaty is unfair.

On Monday, at the Yokohama ceremony, the now-retired Fenton noted that the alliance “has withstood the test of time here in Japan.”

He also thanked the men and women of the CNFJ/CNRJ, and recalled the quick response of Navy personnel when the destroyer USS Fitzgerald stuck a container ship off the Japanese coast in 2017, resulting in the deaths of seven U.S. Navy personnel. Two months later 10 sailors died after the destroyer USS John McCain collided with an oil tanker.

“We took a very deep and long look at the issues that contributed to those accidents and I think that we have been successful at implementing corrective action and changes that the sailors, chiefs and officers of the forward-deployed naval forces are now using,” Fenton noted.

Fort, the new commander, previously served in the Middle Pacific and in England with the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.

“We are very proud and very honored to call Japan our home away from home,” said Fort. “This is the first time we have served in Japan. We have much to learn in the way of Japanese culture and tradition, but we are very excited to learn and we promise to be very good students.”

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