Japanese Ships say Konnichiwa To Tampa

Japanese Ships
TAMPA -

The two training ships and one destroyer have a crew of about 800 men and women. That includes about 200 newly-commissioned officers, who are getting some on-the-job training at sea.

Along with sharpening navigation and ship-handling skills, the stop in Tampa offers a chance for the sailors and the locals to learn about each other first-hand.

VOICE OF LT. NODA: 'Tampa ni isho desuk...

Lt. Taisei Noda says his impression of Florida was based on a film he saw, featuring an iconic dolphin.

VOICE OF LT. NODA: 'Flipper to yo, eiga mitte...

Translation: As a child I saw the movie 'Flipper,' so I thought Florida was nothing but blue water. When I saw the modern buildings of Tampa, I was pleasantly surprised, he says.

World War II navy veteran Victor DiMaio, who served on a PT boat tender in the Pacific theater, was impressed with the sleek, modern ships.

DiMAIO: I didn't think the Japanese had that many ships this size. I figured they'd have a few small boats, but not no three cruisers like these are.

The ships are moored behind Cruise Terminal #3 at the Port of Tampa. They're open to the public this morning from 9:30-11:30 and this afternoon from 1:30 to 3:30.

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