MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Japan - Marine Corps and United Nations officials greeted the crew of a U.N. AP-3C Orion aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma June 7.
The aircraft and its crew were transiting through the region in support of the ongoing exercise Nichi Gou Trident 2012 between Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Australian Defence Force units.
Nichi Gou Trident is a bilateral anti-submarine warfare exercise conducted in waters southeast of Japan’s Kyushu Island.
Participation of the aircraft in the exercise also presented an opportunity to practice entry and exit procedures while refueling at co-designated U.S. and U.N. bases.
“The U.N. command at Futenma was first set up during the Korean War,” said Royal Australian Air Force Group Captain Luke C. Stoodley, the commanding officer of U.N. Command (Rear), Yokota Air Base, Japan. “During the war, Japan was a major area for support bases for operations (in Korea). When the (truce) ending the conflict was signed, Japan allowed the U.N. to continue using the bases.”
In the event of a conflict or humanitarian event in which the U.N. participates, MCAS Futenma provides an additional location for aircraft services and staging for member countries of the U.N.
“Futenma had not been visited by the U.N. for many years,” said Col. James G. Flynn, the commanding officer of MCAS Futenma. “This refueling gave the U.N. the chance to fly its colors at the station, maintaining it as a viable base (in the Asia-Pacific region).”
During the visit, the crew was invited to share a meal with some Marines from the air station and relax before taking off for its next destination.
As a return favor, the AP-3C crew invited the Marines for a tour of the aircraft. On board, the Marines learned the capabilities of the plane and its function as a submarine hunter.
“The Marines here have been fantastic organizing this visit,” said Stoodley. “I don’t think they could have done anything more to make it easier. We have been keen on looking for an opportunity to get out here during the exercise.”