Naval Air Facility Atsugi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Atsugi Naval Air Facility)
Jump to: navigation, search
NAF Atsugi
厚木海軍飛行場
Atsugi Kaigun-hikōjō
Atsugi air base (2352837131).jpg
IATA: NJAICAO: RJTA
Summary
Airport type Military
Operator United States Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Location Kanagawa Prefecture Japan
Built 1938
In use 1938-1945, 1950–present
Commander Captain John F. Bushley[1]
Elevation AMSL 205 ft / 62 m
Coordinates 35°27′17″N 139°27′00″E / 35.45472°N 139.45000°E / 35.45472; 139.45000Coordinates: 35°27′17″N 139°27′00″E / 35.45472°N 139.45000°E / 35.45472; 139.45000
Website Naval Air Facility Atsugi Website
Map
RJTA is located in Japan
RJTA
RJTA
Location in Japan
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
01/19 2,438 7,999 Concrete
Sources: official site[2]
Japanese AIP at AIS Japan[3]

Naval Air Facility Atsugi (厚木海軍飛行場 Atsugi Kaigun-hikōjō?) (IATA: NJAICAO: RJTA) is a naval air base located in the cities of Yamato and Ayase in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is the largest United States Navy air base in the Pacific Ocean and houses the squadrons of Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5), which deploys with the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). Service members stationed at Atsugi also work in conjunction with the Kamiseya Naval Radio Receiving Facility.

CVW-5 shares the base with the Headquarters Fleet Air Force and Fleet Air Wing 4, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. NAF Atsugi is also home to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 51 (HSM-51), which provides detachments of MH-60R helicopters to forward deployed U.S. Navy guided missile cruisers, guided missile destroyers and frigates homeported at the nearby Yokosuka Naval Base.

Despite its name, the base is 4 nautical miles (7.4 km; 4.6 mi) east northeast[3] from the city of Atsugi, and is not adjacent to the city.

History[edit]

Arrival of General Douglas MacArthur (second from right) at Atsugi, 30 August 1945
NAF Atsugi main gate

The Imperial Japanese Navy constructed the base in 1938 to house the Japanese 302 Naval Aviation Corps, one of Japan's most formidable fighter squadrons during World War II. Aircraft based at Atsugi shot down more than 300 American bombers during the firebombings of 1945[citation needed]. After Japan's surrender, many of Atsugi's pilots refused to follow Hirohito's order to lay down their arms, and took to the skies to drop leaflets on Tokyo and Yokohama urging locals to resist the Americans. Eventually, these pilots gave up and left Atsugi.

General Douglas MacArthur arrived at Atsugi on 30 August to accept Japan's surrender. Shortly afterwards, elements of the USAAF 3d Bombardment Group moved in about 8 September, being replaced by the USAAF 49th Fighter Group on 15 September which handled the initial cleanup of the heavily-damaged airfield along with the 1539th Army Air Forces Base Unit to provide station facilities. Minimal flight operations were restored by October which allowed the P-61 Black Widow-equipped 418th Night Fighter Squadron to operate from the airfield to provide air defense over the area, along with the P-38 Lightnings of the 49th FG. The 49th moved to Chitose Airfield on Hokkaido in mid February 1946, the 416th NFS to Okinawa in June, and on 31 December 1946 the 1539th AAFBU moved to Haneda Airfield.

During the occupation, the base housed the overflow from nearby Camp Zama; it was not refurbished to handle military air traffic until the Korean War. The Seabees (Navy construction battalions) came to the base in 1950 and prepared it for re-opening that December as Naval Air Station Atsugi.

NAF Atsugi was a major naval air base during both the Korean War and Vietnam War, serving fighters, bombers, and transport aircraft.

One of the aircraft based at Atsugi at least since 1957[4] was the U-2 spy plane. The plane made local Japanese headlines when it ran low on fuel and made an emergency landing at a glider-club landing strip. This same plane was piloted by Gary Powers, which provoked an international incident when it was downed over the Soviet Union.[5]

In 1964 a United States Marine Corps F8U-2 Crusader based at the airfield crashed in nearby Machida, Tokyo. The pilot ejected and was not seriously injured, but the crash killed four and injured 32 people on the ground and destroyed seven houses.[6]

In 1972, the U.S. and Japanese governments agreed to share ownership of the base, after which the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force began operating from there.

On 2 November 1976, a US Navy Grumman C-1 Trader, piloted by Lt. Laury K. Backman, suffered a mechanical failure of the aileron system while maneuvering to land on runway 01, and crashed short of the runway. All six aboard were killed.[7]

In 1977, a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II based at the facility suffered a mechanical failure and crashed into a residential neighborhood in nearby Yokohama. The crew ejected and survived, but two young boys, aged 1 and 3, were killed and 7 others injured.[8]

Elements of the Naval Security Group and rotational squadrons of EP-3 Aries that are now stationed at Misawa Air Base were formerly stationed at Atsugi until the 1990s.

In February 9, 1999 a fire broke out at a terminal, no injuries were reported.[9]

On April 3, 2003 a faction of the leftist group Kakurōkyō attacked the facility. Around the same time the same group also attacked Yokota Air Base and the National Defence Agency.[10]

P-3 Orions wrecked in 2014

On 14 November 2009 a fire in Hangar 183 at the base injured three Japanese employees of Obayashi Corporation. The fire was reported at 11:55 a.m. and was extinguished by 12:45 p.m. The hangar was moderately damaged.[11]

In December 2009, Atsugi was again attacked by leftist extremists via improvised mortar barrages.[12]

Personnel and aircraft from the base assisted with Operation Tomodachi following and during the March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and Fukushima I nuclear accidents. During the crisis, around 2,000 American family members voluntarily departed the base for locations outside Japan.[13]

On December 16 2013 a HM-60S Knighthawk of CVW-5 crashed in Miura city due to a tail jam. The aircraft was written off and two of the four occupants were injured.[14][15]

On February 15 2014 three US Navy P-3 Orions were crushed "beyond repair" when their hangar was destroyed due to a massive snow storm.[16][17] As of 2016 two of them still remain outside on the base.

Base name[edit]

Atsugi is named after the nearby city of Atsugi despite not actually being in Atsugi (it is separated from Atsugi by two other cities).

The name was chosen because Atsugi was the only large town in the area as of 1950, and the three farming villages surrounding the base at that time—Yamato Village, Ayase Village and Shibuya Village—shared names with better-known areas elsewhere in Japan. Yamato is an alternative name for the Nara region, Ayase is generally associated with the area around Ayase Station in northeast Tokyo, and Shibuya is generally associated with the ward of Shibuya in central Tokyo.

Base issues[edit]

The Jinkanpo Incinerator[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Jinkanpo Atsugi Incinerator.

NAF Atsugi and the people stationed there gained notoriety in the 1990s (stemming from near-daily reports in the Pacific Stars and Stripes newspaper) due to their proximity to the Jinkanpo Atsugi Incinerator, which blew toxic and cancerous emissions over the high-rise buildings in its immediate vicinity. The incinerator's owners, arrested and jailed for charges of tax evasion, neglected the maintenance of the facility. The pollution had become so much of a health problem for residents that if they showed signs of adverse health effects, the base allowed them to leave early (usually servicemembers are stationed at the base for a tour of three years). Many servicemembers reported sickness and a few died from cancer shortly after moving back to the United States.[18] For a time, the base required servicemembers to undergo medical screenings before being stationed at the base in order to ensure that their bodies could handle the poor air quality. In spite of this, servicemembers still developed health problems, such as acute cases of asthma.

The US government's Department of Justice sued the incinerator operators.[19] In May 2001, just before the court was to hand down its decision, the Japanese government purchased the plant for nearly 40 million dollars and shut it down. Dismantling was completed by the end of that year.[20]

Noise lawsuits[edit]

Since 1976 there have been a number of lawsuits with local residents sued the Japanese government over noise from the base,[21] and in October 2002 the Yokohama district court ruled that the government should pay 2.75 billion yen in compensation. Both the plaintiffs and the government appealed the case and in July 2006 the Tokyo High Court ordered the government to pay 4.04 billion yen to 4,865 people living near the base.[22]

The fourth lawsuit over noise was filed in 2007, and on appeal to the Tokyo High Court gave ¥9.4 billion to around 6,900 residents from eight cities, increasing the payout from the ¥7 billion yen ordered by the Yokohama district court. However, the court rejected calls to forbid night flights by US aircraft, arguing that the Japan-US security treaty is beyond the government's jurisdiction. In this it was following a Supreme Court ruling on the 1976 case, where the court ruled that the Japanese government has no power to regulate the activities of US forces in the country.[23]

Protests[edit]

There have been a number of protests regarding the base. In July 1988 20,000 people made a human chain around the base to protest noisy night landings at the base.[24][25]

In 2005 Yamato city officials protested noisy night landings from F/A-18 Hornet training.[26]

In 2007 the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) protested F-16 and F/A-18 exercises at the base and asked that they be stopped.[27]

In 2013 the JCP also protested after a USN Seahawk helicopter from Atsugi crashed in Miura city, and asked that Bell Boeing V-22 Ospreys not be deployed to Atsugi.[28] When Ospreys were sent to the base for training this caused local protests.[29]

Current operations[edit]

A US Navy Seahawk at Naval Air Facility Atsugi

Atsugi currently hosts Carrier Air Wing Five, part of aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan's air component. The wing includes about 70 aircraft and 2,000 military personnel who are stationed at Atsugi when the carrier is in port at Yokosuka. On 9 May 2008 the wing commander, Captain Michael P. McNellis, was relieved of command by Rear Admiral Richard B. Wren, commander of Commander Task Force 70, after the admiral said he lost confidence in McNellis' ability to command. McNellis was replaced by Captain Michael S. White.[30][31] In 2012 the squadrons of CAW 5 completed their transition to variants of the Super Hornet/Growler, making it the first air wing without legacy Hornets.[32]

Plans for aircraft relocation to Iwakuni[edit]

Since at least 2005 there have been plans to relocate Carrier Air Wing Five's approximately 60 aircraft from Atsugi to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi prefecture.[33] Yamaguchi governor Sekinari Nii said there was "no way" Yamaguchi prefecture would accept this.[34] In 2006 Iwakuni voters rejected the plan in a plebiscite[35] and Iwakuni mayor Katsusuke Ihara urged Tokyo to drop the plan.[36] In 2007 the Japanese government passed legislation to prepare for the relocation of US Forces in Japan including subsidies for local affected areas.[37]

The move was planned to have been done in 2014, but after construction delays the move was delayed by three years, to 2017.[38] As of 2016[39] there are plans to transfer the aircraft in 2017.[40]

Tenant squadrons[edit]

Maritime Self Defence Force[edit]

JMSDF P-1 patrol aircraft taking off from NAF Atsugi

As of 2016, the following Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force units are based at NAF Atsugi:[41]

US Navy[edit]

As of 2016, the US Navy tenant commands at NAF Atsugi are:[42]

Two Super Hornets from VFA-102 at NAF Atusgi
EA-18G Growler of VAQ-141 taxies after landing

Carrier Air Wing Five:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Biographies Retrieved August 17, 2016
  2. ^ NAF Atsugi (official site)
  3. ^ a b AIS Japan
  4. ^ "FUTURE PLANS FOR PROJECT AQUATONE/OILSTONE" (gif). Central Intelligence Agency. 29 July 1957. p. 2. Retrieved 2010-06-12. 
  5. ^ Powers, Francis (1960). Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 43,49-50,94. ISBN 9781574884227. 
  6. ^ Associated Press (6 April 1964). "U.S. Plane in Japan Kills Four in Crash". New York Times. p. 7. 
  7. ^ personal knowledge, contributor is son of pilot
  8. ^ Hirano, Keiji (Kyodo News) (28 September 2012). "Group saves records of fatal U.S. fighter jet crash". Japan Times. Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  9. ^ Atsugi naval warehouse catches fire February 9, 1999 Japan Times Retrieved August 10, 2016
  10. ^ Yoshida, Reiji Leftist group raided after projectile attack February 19, 2004 Japan Times Retrieved August 10, 2016
  11. ^ Stars and Stripes, "Hangar fire at Atsugi injures 3", 16 November 2009.
  12. ^ http://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/japan/japanese-police-raid-operational-bases-of-anti-u-s-military-group-1.122516?localLinksEnabled=false
  13. ^ Reed, Charlie, "Military wraps up first round of departures from Japan", Stars and Stripes, 25 March 2011, retrieved 28 March 2011.
  14. ^ ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 162748 Retrieved August 27, 2016
  15. ^ Slavin, Erik US Navy helicopter crashes south of Yokosuka December 16, 2013 Stars and Stripes Retrieved August 27, 2016
  16. ^ "Three US navy planes crushed in Japan snow". AFP. 7 May 2014. Archived from the original on 10 May 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2016. 
  17. ^ "Navy Orions likely damaged in hangar collapse". Stars and Stripes. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  18. ^ Hesse, Stephen Is the Atsugi tragedy finally drawing to a close? February 28, 2010 Japan Times Retrieved August 26, 2016
  19. ^ Hesse, Stephen U.S. sues Atsugi incinerator operator February 12, 2001 Japan Times Retrieved August 11, 2016
  20. ^ Hesse, Stephen Is this a poisons coverup? June 27, 2007 Japan Times Retrieved August 11, 2016
  21. ^ Hanai, Kiroku Noisy assaults on living October 27, 2008 Japan Times Retrieved August 10, 2016
  22. ^ Hongo, Jun 4 billion yen awarded for Atsugi base noise Jul 14, 2006 Japan Times
  23. ^ Reducing military jet noise August 9, 2015 Japan Times Retrieved August 10, 2016
  24. ^ Quiet Protest and US Base July 25, 1988 LA Times Retrieved August 27, 2016
  25. ^ 20,000 protest at U.S. base in Japan July 24, 1988 Lakeland Ledger Retrieved August 27, 2016
  26. ^ Atsugi F/A-18 training draws noise protest from city officials May 22, 2005 Stars and Stripes Retrieved August 27, 2016
  27. ^ JCP protests U.S. forces’ exercises with F-16s and FA-18s at Atsugi December 11, 2007 Akahata Retrieved August 27, 2016
  28. ^ JCP in Kanagawa protests against US military copter crash December 2013 Japan Press Weekly Retrieved August 27, 2016
  29. ^ Ospreys fly to Atsugi base again en route to training August 19, 2014 Japan Times Retrieved August 27, 2016
  30. ^ Weaver, Teri, "Kitty Hawk Air Wing Commander Removed For 'Loss Of Confidence'", Stars and Stripes, 11 May 2008.
  31. ^ Commander Carrier Air Wing 5 Relieved of Command May 9, 2008 Navy.mil Retrieved August 10, 2016
  32. ^ Stewart, Joshua Corps to base F-35s in Asia-Pacific region January 21, 2015 Marine Times Retrieved August 11, 2016
  33. ^ Iwakuni to take in Atsugi jets? Jun 4, 2005 Japan Times Retrieved August 10, 2016
  34. ^ Yamaguchi governor rips Iwakuni move October 31, 2005 Japan Times Retrieved August 10, 2016
  35. ^ Johnston, Eric Iwakuni voters reject realignment plan Mar 13, 2006 Japan Times
  36. ^ Drop base plan: Iwakuni mayor March 17, 2006 Japan Times Retrieved August 10, 2016
  37. ^ Diet enacts law that paves way for U.S. forces realignment May 24, 2007 Japan Times Retrieved August 10, 2016
  38. ^ Air wing's move from Atsugi to Iwakuni delayed 3 years January 25, 2013 Stars and Stripes Retrieved August 10, 2016
  39. ^ Moriyasu, Ken US Navy needs touch-and-go practice strip May 13, 2016 The Nikkei Retrieved August 31, 2016
  40. ^ Reducing military jet noise August 9, 2015 Japan Times Retrieved August 10, 2016
  41. ^ 厚木航空基地 Retrieved August 11, 2016 (Japanese)
  42. ^ NAF Atsugi: Tenant commands Retrieved August 10, 2016

External links[edit]