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7th Fleet's new liberty restrictions

Dec. 3, 2012 - 08:45AM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 3, 2012 - 08:45AM  |  
Vice Adm. Scott Swift, commander of 7th Fleet, implemented stricter liberty rules after a string of incidents with drunken sailors.
Vice Adm. Scott Swift, commander of 7th Fleet, implemented stricter liberty rules after a string of incidents with drunken sailors. (Navy)
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Ordered Nov. 23, these rules mean even stricter controls on the free time for sailors and officers in 7th Fleet. Vice Adm. Scott Swift implemented the rules after a string of misconduct from service members in Japan, on the heels of an alleged rape of a Japanese woman by two sailors in Okinawa.

The rules:

Not just Japan.

The latest rules apply to all sailors and other service members who fall under the operational, tactical or administrative control of 7th Fleet, which spans 48 million square miles. These rules affect an estimated 40,000 sailors.

Swift has requested compliance from commands transiting 7th Fleet, as well. A fleet spokesman said those commands that don't fall directly under 7th Fleet are, in general, supporting the policies. Guam is not considered a foreign port, but units were also asked to comply with the "spirit of the policy, as possible," the spokesman said.

Be back by curfew.

After the alleged rape, U.S. Forces Japan set an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for all troops in the country. This curfew stands and is extended to all 7th Fleet.

Regardless of liberty status, troops must be on base during this time or in their government-provided off-base home.

Hotel restrictions for visitors.

Sailors who are in transit and not at their base can stay in a hotel, but only if that hotel has been approved and authorized by their command.

Last call for alcohol — even at home.

Sailors aren't allowed to drink alcohol after 10 p.m., an hour before curfew. That applies even if you are in your own home or quarters, and regardless of your leave or liberty status. And you had better not grab a drink before reporting for morning duty: The new rules set a no-alcohol restriction from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., which extends the previous drinking ban of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The shorter period was "putting sailors at risk," Swift said. "They could drink right to the second before you need to be back on base.

"I don't think a good sailor has a problem not drinking before eight o'clock in the morning," he added. "If [commands] have got a sailor that comes across the brow and he's drunk, he has immediately violated an order."

Tighter rules for troubled sailors.

Sailors who have been on Class C restriction, or are deemed at risk for getting into trouble, any time in the past three years, will remain on or return to that status. Sailors on Class C status typically lose all liberty and are restricted to their shop or base, can't wear civilian clothes and are barred from drinking alcohol. This Class C rule affects about 800 sailors. But their commanding officer can review their cases and decide to change their status and give them more freedom. The fleet commander will make the final decision, however.

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