The U.S. Navy announced today that one of its nine Nimitz-class aircraft carriers will replace the USS Kitty Hawk as the forward deployed carrier in the Western Pacific, and will arrive in Yokosuka, Japan in 2008.
The USS Kitty Hawk is nearing the end of its service life and will return to the United States in 2008 to be decommissioned.
The United States values Japans contributions to the peace, security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region and its long-term commitment and hospitality in hosting U.S. forces forward deployed there. These forces, along with their counterparts in the Japn Self-Defense Forces, make up the core capabilities needed by the alliance to meet our common strategic objectives.
Additionally, the forward deployment of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier ensures the ability of commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet to fulfill the U.S. governments commitment to the defense of Japan, and the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East in support of the treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.
The security environment in the Western Pacific region increasingly requires that the U.S. Navy station the most capable ships forward, from established forward-deployed positions. This posture allows the most rapid response times possible for maritime and joint forces, and brings our most capable ships with the greatest amount of striking power and operational capability to bear in the timeliest manner.
This ship rotation will not necessitate a change in the assigned airwing, nor in the compostion of the airwing. Carrier Air Wing Five will remain the forward-deployed air wing.
This ship rotation is part of the Navys long-range effort to routinely replace older ships assigned to the Navys forward deployed naval forces with newer or more capable platforms, and is part of an ongoing effort to consider the nature of all forward deployed forces when looking at the unpredictable security environment in the Western Pacific.
The U.S. Navy values the friendly relations it enjoys with its host cities in Japan, and will continue it strong and positive engagement with its host nation neighbors.
Since 1964, U.S. nuclear-powered warships have visited Japanese ports more than 1,200 times. From the beginning, the U.S. has provided firm commitments to the Government of Japan regarding the safe use of Japanese ports by U.S. nuclear powered warships and confirmed that all safety precautions and procedures followed in connection with operations in U.S. ports will be strictly observed in foreign ports. That commitment remains firmly in place.