The USS Kitty Hawk arrived at its home port in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, in May 2003. U.S. and Japanese officials have agreed to let the U.S. Navy station a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Japan for the first time, the Navy announced yesterday. It would replace the USS Kitty Hawk, a diesel-powered carrier.
Japan to host nuclear U.S. carrier
The Navy says the move is unrelated to efforts to base such a vessel in Hawaii
The Pentagon's decision to locate a nuclear aircraft carrier in Japan for the first time is not related to the ongoing campaign to home-port one at Pearl Harbor, Navy officials said yesterday.
Pacific Fleet spokesman Jon Yoshishige said no decision has been made on whether the Navy will base a nuclear aircraft carrier in Hawaii.
The Navy announced yesterday that the USS Kitty Hawk -- one of its two remaining non-nuclear carriers -- will leave Yokosuka in 2008 and be decommissioned. It will be replaced by one its nine nuclear carriers.
Although the Pentagon did not name the Kitty Hawk's replacement, Japanese newspapers have said for the past few weeks it would be the USS George Bush, named after the former president.
The decision by Japan to allow the U.S. Navy to dock a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Japanese waters reverses a long-cherished national policy. There has always been opposition within Japan on basing a nuclear carrier at a country where atomic bombs were dropped 60 years ago, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by U.S. bombers.
Although the head of the Pacific Fleet, Adm. Gary Roughead, has declined to say whether he supports home-porting a carrier at Pearl Harbor, his two successors -- Adms. Thomas Fargo and Walter Doran -- have endorsed such a move.
Yoshishige said the Navy has not completed a $1.8 million internal study started three years ago to examine the issue. Seven years ago the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii estimated that Hawaii would gain $375 million annually with the creation of 4,200 jobs from berthing a carrier here.
The Pentagon, in its announcement, said that since 1964, U.S. nuclear-powered warships have visited Japanese ports more than 1,200 times.
Last summer, an independent commission favored shifting the Navy's nine nuclear carriers to Hawaii as part of a U.S. military force to provide a hedge against a range of threats in the Pacific.