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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 13 - 19  > U.S. aircraft carrier Nimitz enters Sasebo Port
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2008 February 13 - 19 [US FORCES]

U.S. aircraft carrier Nimitz enters Sasebo Port

February 11, 2008
The U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Nimitz on February 11 entered the U.S. Navy Sasebo Base in Nagasaki Prefecture. The Nimitz will stay in the western Pacific area until May as a replacement for the USS Kitty Hawk, a Yokosuka-based conventional aircraft carrier that is under repair.

Frequent port calls to Sasebo by U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carriers have been prompting worries in the local community that the city is being turned into a “quasi homeport” of U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

In the past 40 years since the USS Enterprise entered the port for the first time, U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carriers have entered Sasebo nine times in total, including the Nimitz’s recent visit, and five of them entered since 2002. This illustrates that the U.S. Navy attaches importance to Sasebo along with Guam under the U.S. policy of concentrating its aircraft carriers in the Pacific.

For six months from April 2007, the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group was sent to the Persian Gulf to carry out operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the maritime security operations. It returned to the U.S. late in September but, in less than four months, began long term operations again. The U.S. Navy explained that the Nimitz’s operation is based on the “Fleet Response Plan” to globally deploy aircraft carriers in a short period of time.

The U.S. officially notified Nagasaki Prefecture and Sasebo City of the Nimitz’s entry only three days before arrival. The time available for private companies to make contracts for the delivery of food and fuel, garbage disposal, and transport of crew has become shorter and shorter. The whole of Sasebo City is actually required to quickly respond to a U.S. aircraft carrier’s entry.

It is noticeable that the Nimitz carries U.S. Marine Corps FA-18 Hornet fighter jets.

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are currently accelerating the integration of their strike fighter units. The planned relocation of carrier-borne aircraft unit from U.S. Atsugi Naval Air Station (Kanagawa Pref.) to U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station (Yamaguchi Pref.) is also part of this move.
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