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USS Pioneer (MCM 9)


Sponsor Information

For sponsorship information please contact USS PIONEER's Command Master Chief at or our sponsorship email distribution list at  You and your family may also contact our Command OMBUDSMAN at, she will be able to provide many local resources, contact information and access to our Command Facebook page and group chats.

Congratulations on your assignment to USS PIONEER (MCM 9)! PIONEER is an AVENGER (MCM 1) Class Mine Countermeasures ship incorporating the most sophisticated technology and best mine hunting and sweeping capabilities in the world. However, the quality of a ship depends most on its crew - you are joining the finest!

We are home ported in Sasebo, Japan with five other USN ships in the USS AMERICA (LHA-6) Expeditionary Strike Group operationally assigned to Amphibious Force U.S. SEVENTH Fleet. PIONEER operates extensively throughout the Western Pacific and you can expect to spend about forty percent of your time in homeport.

Sasebo is located on the western side of the Japanese island of Kyushu, the southern most island in the main islands of Japan, approximately one and a half hours north of Nagasaki and two hours South of Fukuoka. Sasebo has businesses, shops, restaurants, department stores, shopping centers and many other attractions. Much of Japan considers Sasebo to be a rural city, but with a population of 250,000, it’s unlike any rural area in the USA. Living in Japan is obviously not the same as living in the United States. The language can be challenging, traffic can be congested, and houses are smaller than those in CONUS. Japan is also a high cost area, but you will receive a cost of living allowance (COLA) that helps considerably.

For married personnel: Temporary lodging can be arranged at the Navy Lodge on base for up to 30 days (30 day extensions are available in some cases), and you will be reimbursed for the cost. Let us know your desires and we will assist in making reservations for you.

For E4 and below: You are fortunate in that you will be housed in our barracks, as most other shipboard E4 and below personnel reside onboard their ships. Our E4 and below personnel are assigned to four-men rooms, sharing a common head. Basic furnishings and linen will be provided. Your personal property office will also limit your HHG shipment to 75 percent of the normal weight allowance. However, with you moving into the BEQ, you should only bring personal effects - i.e. no furniture. For details contact the local personal property office in your area. Excess HHG will be authorized for storage in CONUS during your tour.

Fleet Activities Sasebo has numerous facilities and support activities. There is a navy exchange, commissary, branch medical clinic, chapel, athletic/recreational facilities, movie theater, various clubs, fast food outlets, DOD school, and almost everything to satisfy your basic needs. Some of the best benefits of this assignment arise from your travels off the base and throughout the Japanese countryside.

Shortly after arrival you will attend the Intercultural Relations (ICR) course and Area Orientation Brief (AOB) where you will learn about Japanese culture and various services/activities available. ICR and AOB are mandatory for active duty personnel and spouses. Dependents, 10 years and older, are encouraged to attend. During ICR and AOB you will be given the opportunity to obtain a US Forces Japan (USFJ) drivers license. In Japan vehicles are driven on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle. Purchasing a used car is easy whether buying from someone on base or a used car dealer off base. Prices range from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 plus, but you can get a very nice vehicle for $2-3,000.

Download Area Orientation Brief/Intercultural Relations (AOB/ICR) weekly schedule for 2022pdf icon

This training is MANDATORY for all military and civilians arriving to commands in Sasebo within 30 days. The training is to ensure newly reporting personnel are fully aware of all CFAS policies, programs, services, responsibilities, and facilities.

Welcome aboard information package will be mailed to you by your sponsor. You should receive it in a few weeks.

You may also obtain similar info on Sasebo by going to your Family Service Center and asking to use the "SITES" program, a computer database, or visiting the COMFLEACT Sasebo's homepage at  
  • Information regarding your assigned sponsor will be sent via message.

When PIONEER is in homeport, we can be reached by overseas DSN or international commercial telephone. Use these numbers:


   DSN and On-base  Commercial
 Quarterdeck  (315) 252-1222  011-81-956-50-1222
 CO/XO  (315) 252-1220  011-81-956-50-1220


  • To call from within Japan, contact the base operator at 0956-50-6111 and then give the desired last four digits from above as the extension.
  • To call from outside Japan using an international commercial line, call 011-81-956-50-6111 for the base operator and give the desired extension.
  • You may also contact U.S. Fleet Activities, Sasebo, Japan Command Duty Officer at 0956-50-6111 ext 3311 for any assistance upon arrival in Japan.

When the ship is out of port, you can contact us by message or email, or you can get useful info from these numbers (use the same number combos as above):


 Family Member Assistant Team (FMAT)  252-3623/3604
 PSD Sasebo  252-3470/3411
 COMFLEACT Sasebo CDO (after hours)  252-3442
 COMFLEACT Sasebo Quarterdeck  252-3311
 Family Housing Office  252-3402
 Navy Lodge Sasebo  252-3608


The primary route for personnel headed to Sasebo is via Osaka-Kansai airport and then to Fukuoka airport. It is recommend that you have $300.00 in Japanese currency in your possession upon arrival for unforeseen expenses along the way. Japanese yen may be purchased at any foreign exchange located at international airports.

  • Normally a ship representative will meet you at Fukuoka airport with transportation for you to Sasebo. Just look for the "USS PIONEER" sign.
  • In the event we are unable to meet you, there are free government shuttles to Sasebo that depart Fukuoka airport at 1200 and 2230 daily. It is approximately a 2-3 hour bus trip. There is a military representative at Fukuoka airport after 1700 everyday who meets the inbound flights. The Navy uniformed Sasebo representative will be located near the information counter area in terminal number 2.
  • The alternate routes are the flights to Fukuoka via Nagoya and Narita airports. For any travel assistance at Narita airport, contact the military representative at Northwest Airlines counter at terminal number one. There is no military rep at Nagoya airport.
  • Travel in civilian clothing is directed due to the increased threat condition.
  • Keep your sponsor informed of your travel itinerary.

You may also contact U.S. Fleet Activities, Sasebo, Japan Command Duty Officer at (0956) 24-6111 ext 3311 for any assistance upon arrival in Japan.

The suggestions below should smooth your transfer to USS PIONEER.

  • You are not required to have a passport for this "official" travel. However, you are strongly encouraged to obtain a "tourist" passport before arriving in Japan. They are much easier / less expensive to obtain in the states. Tourist passports will permit travel in other foreign countries, particularly during ship visits to other areas. Passports can be obtained by filling out a form at any U.S. Post Office. Call in advance to ascertain what documents / photos will be required. It can take four to six weeks for the passport to arrive in the mail.
  • Ensure your page 2 (record of emergency data) is current and your SGLI and personal will are up to date.
  • Verify your direct deposit and allotments.
  • Ensure that you have a full sea bag upon arrival, as availability of uniform items can be limited.

If you are married,

  • Ensure your spouse has all needed documents including copies of your PCS orders to PIONEER and Family Entry Approval to Japan.
  • Ensure all family members are enrolled in DEERS.
  • Consider a power of attorney for your spouse to conduct business in your behalf.
  • Consider an allotment for family members.
  • Ensure family members have necessary dental work done prior to transfer. Dental appointments for family members are available on a "space available" basis only. The range of services is limited, and the waiting list for appointments can be long. The dental plan available in CONUS is not available to personnel stationed overseas. Dental care from Japanese dentists is somewhat difficult to obtain due to the challenging language and high costs.

If you arrive when the ship is underway, report to the Transient Personnel Detachment (TPD) for check-in processing.

Please keep us informed of any changes in travel plans so we can ensure you are met at the airport. Once again, congratulations on your orders and welcome to the crew of the USS PIONEER.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is an Ombudsman?
Every Command has an Ombudsman who is a spouse of a sailor at the Command. The Ombudsman serves as the liaison between the command and the families. The Ombudsman is the point of contact for the families. He or she can assist families with navigating through Navy life through resources and information.

2. How can an Ombudsman help me?
Navy Family Ombudsmen are key resources for family members, particularly during deployments. Ombudsmen maintain current resource files with information on military and civilian community agencies that can help families solve a variety of problems, and successfully meet the challenges they face before, during, and after deployments. In addition to providing referral information, Ombudsmen can facilitate communication between the Command and family members. Ombudsmen may publish or contribute to command newsletters or maintain care lines, which have recorded messages with information for command families that can be accessed 24 hours a day. Ombudsmen can also assist families in contacting the Command for a variety of reasons.

3. What is the role of the COMNAVSURFPAC Force Ombudsman?
The Force Ombudsman provides oversight and guidance for all the Surface Ship's Ombudsmen in the Pacific Fleet Area of Responsibility. You can contact the Surface Forces Ombudsman at (619) 301-6983 or send an email to

4. What is an IA assignment or tour?
An IA is an Individual Augmentee. A Sailor may receive orders to go IA and this means that he or she will deploy as an Individual, not with their command. Sometimes an IA will deploy and be stationed with another branch of the Military.

5. What is NFAAS?
Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System. This is how the Navy will track your family and assess your needs during an emergency.

6. How can I find out more about medical, dental or Navy family resources?
Contact your Command Ombudsman. He or she will guide you to your resources.

USS Pioneer (MCM 9) Logo
USS Pioneer (MCM 9)

UNIT 100151 BOX 1
FPO AP 96675-1929



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