Protesters Greet USS Enterprise in Japan (Part I)


An excerpt from a Sea Story by Malcolm Torres

Sailor Jerry Asian Flash Tattoos

This is an excerpt from a new story, Making Peace with Japan, about the USS Enterprise’s visit to Sasebo in 1983.  In this tale, which is funny and mostly true, the ship encounters anti-nuclear protesters as we enter the harbor. The story (linked here) is free on Amazon Aug 6 to 10, 2016.  The artwork above is by Sailor Jerry.

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Sometimes we man the rails when we arrive in port.  Manning the rails is a formal thing where sailors in crackerjacks or dress whites, depending on the time of year and which hemisphere we’re in, line up arm’s-length apart along all the weather decks to honor dignitaries or ships as we enter a port, but it’s a good thing we don’t man the rails as we enter Sasebo harbor.  Some of the protesters hired local fishing boats and blocked the harbor entrance.

Even though multiple announcements tell all hands to stay clear of the ship’s weather decks, Deuce and me and O’Don are hiding in the catwalk outside our shop.  We have a bird’s eye view as the Japanese Coast Guard attempts to disperse the blockade.  They blast sirens and shout orders over loudspeakers.  We peek through the railing and watch Japanese Coast Guard sailors board several small boats. They hold clubs but don’t hit anybody, not right away.  The Japanese, I learn later are a highly civilized people, very polite and conforming even when engaged in disputes and protests.

The Enterprise comes to a full stop because the blockade is not dispersing.  Then the Japanese Coast Guard opens up with water cannons and sprays the protesters who are standing on the decks of the little fishing boats squawking through bullhorns and holding up signs that say, “Enterprise Go Home” and “No Nukes.”  Several boats peel away, having made their point, but others don’t back off, so the Coast Guard sailors start whacking people and spraying mace.  For about an hour the scene is a total clusterfuck, with the Enterprise and the Japanese Coast Guard ships ringing alarm bells and blasting sirens.  Small craft with their decks full of protesters are darting around with police speedboats chasing them.

“We ought to plow them under,” Deuce says.

After a while the fishing boats disperse and we enter the inner harbor.  But we’re not going to tie up to a pier.  The plan all along has been to have liberty boats shuttle the crew to land and back.

Shrill whistles, called Bosun pipes, blow throughout the ship and announcements over the PA system call away the anchor detail.  Out of nowhere a couple speed boats shoot toward us and the Coast Guard boats and police boats speed over close against our side.

“Holy shit,” O’Don says.

The anti-collision alarm blasts from speakers all over the ship.  It’s the loudest god-awful thing you’ve ever heard—a mix of air raid warning and police siren cranked up to eleven.

“Dude, it’s a fucking international incident,” Deuce says.

A Japanese guy making some kind of declaration on a bullhorn.  The others on the boat are waving signs and cheering.

Even though the guy with the bullhorn has a thick Japanese accent, I hear him say: “America Navy Go Home!” and “No Nukes in Japan!”

Someone on the boat chucks a balloon full of red paint at the Enterprise, an 80-foot-high wall of steel looming over them.  What looks like a Fourth of July rocket, leaving a smoke tail, arcs into the air.  A helicopter swoops in and there’s a guy hanging out the side door with a video camera capturing the action for the evening news.

“Man your battle stations,” O’Don says, “we’re under attack.”

Somebody on the fishing boat tosses up a smoke bomb that rolls across the flight deck and comes to rest under a fighter jet.

A Marine runs out and picks it up and throws it overboard into the water.

The Japanese Coast Guard ship stops alongside the fishing boat and bangs into it, sending everyone tumbling to the deck.

Another news helicopter swoops in.

Me and O’Don and Deuce look at each other like holy shit this is epic, only back then we said classic not epic, but it meant the same thing.

O’Don unbuckles his belt and drops his dungarees, bends over and shows his rusty butt to Tokyo news channel 8.


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Making Peace With Japan, A Sea Story is available as an eBook on Amazon.

This funny story follows three young sailors off the USS Enterprise as they come ashore in Sasebo, Japan and are greeted by thousands of anti-nuclear protesters. After weeks at sea, the sailors only want an exotic meal and a cold beer, but this port visit turns into a reckoning with history after they meet some friendly local girls and find themselves Making Peace with Japan. This is one of the short stories in The Sea Adventure Collection, by Malcolm Torres. These stories are often free on Amazon, and they can be read in any order..

Making Peace With Japan is available as an eBook on Amazon.

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You might also like this free short thriller: Sixty-Four Days, A Sea Story. It's free on all eReaders. Grab your free copy right here.

Sixty-Four Days

Malcolm Torres is the author of original sea stories and nautical novels available online at all major book and eBook retailers.  Read Malcolm Torres’s blog, which is full of free sea stories, nautical fiction, US Navy adventures and Coast Guard Thrillers.

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8 Responses to Protesters Greet USS Enterprise in Japan (Part I)

  1. Nevertheless, the Enterprise visit is controversial. It comes at a time when Japan’s entire defense policy, especially the growing alignment with the Soviet confrontational approach of the Reagan administration, is being questioned.

    • Kyle, You are right and we do tend to forget the cold war arms race and how hard Reagan was pushing the military against the Russians. It was a gamble but eventually the USSR crumbled so I guess it paid off. Not sure the post cold-war world is any more peaceful, though.

  2. Bruce Rifkin says:

    I was on the Big E on very the first visit Jan 1968. Some crazy things happened. We left to go to the PI than on to the Gulf of Tonkin when the call came over the 1MC that the USS Pueblo was taken over by the North Koreans. We took station 49 miles outside of Wason harbor for three or four weeks. We froze our asses off and were hassled by Migs and PT boats. The Navy sent in more ships started a task force.

  3. Larry says:

    This story is very funny and makes me want to read the rest of the story on Kindle.

  4. Jenny E says:

    Very nicely written.

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