Sailors Awakened by Earthquake in Okinawa


OKINAWA, Japan -- A magnitude 6.6 earthquake shook the island of Okinawa Japan during the wee hours of the morning, March 3.

Sailors from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 were preparing to attend their morning physical training (PT) session when the tremor rocked Camp Shields.

"I have never experienced an earthquake before," said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Nancy Vergara, from St. Paul, Minn. "At first, I didn't even know what it was, but I noticed it after the second wave of stronger tremors came through after a brief pause from the initial onset."

Earthquakes are commonplace in Japan, which experiences them frequently throughout the year. 

They can also generate tsunamis, but according to the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center in Monterey, Calif., a destructive tsunami was not generated because the earthquake is located too deep inside the earth.

The epicenter of the quake was located 60 miles north of Camp Shields in the Ryukyu Islands Japan. 

The Okinawa emergency guide states that Okinawa sits in an area called "The Pacific Ring of Fire." This area is the most volatile region for seismic activity in the world. Since there is no way to predict when and where an earthquake will occur, NMCB 1 Sailors need to be ready to take action and remain safe in an emergency situation.

"Every deployment site has to be ready to respond to events specific to their geographic area," said NMCB 1 Executive Officer Lt. Cmdr. Bob Stiles. "In Okinawa, we deliberately prepare for potential natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons. In addition to sharing information from emergency action guides to prepare our Seabees and keep them safe, we develop written plans to define procedures and assign responsibilities in case we need to react."

NMCB 1 is currently deployed to several countries in the Pacific region and three sites in the United States as part of its 2014 deployment. Aligned with Secretary of The Navy Ray Mabus' four priorities of people, platforms, partnerships and power, the battalion will deliver the Navy's forward presence through its work with several host nations at its Pacific Civic Construction Action Details in the and will continue to conduct construction operations in the Northern Command.

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