MSDF armada masses; first order is curry contest

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

One key mission of a group of 15 Maritime Self-Defense Force warships, including four of the nation’s six state-of-the-art Aegis destroyers, is generating a nationwide buzz on the Internet.

The ships will gather Saturday at the MSDF base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Why so many warships? Is war coming? Have they gathered to intercept ballistic missiles from North Korea? No.

The most important mission Saturday is a curry-cooking contest.

Cooks from 15 ships and an MSDF ground-based unit will offer curry to visitors who will be asked to vote for the best meal among the 16 different servings.

A spokesman at MSDF headquarters in Tokyo said the warships are at Yokosuka for an annual training exercise, and that the one-day curry contest is just a sideline event.

“Those ships have not gathered for a curry contest,” the spokesman said.

But the contest, expected to draw as many as 10,000 visitors, should provide good PR for the MSDF, given the public’s love of curry.

The MSDF, which inherited the cooking tradition of the Imperial Japanese Navy, is -known for good curry recipes. The ships serve curry to their crews every Friday.

On Friday, many Net users exchanged messages over Twitter about the curry event. Some appeared critical, believing the MSDF was assembling the warships just for a cooking contest.

“Wow, this many destroyers have got together just for curry meals . . . ” one user tweeted, with a photo of MSDF ships anchored at Yokosuka Friday morning.

The contest starts at 9 a.m.