Tokyo (dpa) – The nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was deployed Thursday at a US naval base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo.
The vessel has replaced the George Washington, which left Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa prefecture in May after a seven-year deployment.
The USS Ronald Reagan, commissioned in 2003, participated in a relief mission in north-eastern Japan soon after the region was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
The ship’s deployment to Japan “demonstrates the US commitment to the region and our allies … and ensures we have the most capable platform forward when it matters, where it matters,” Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry has said Tokyo welcomes the deployment and “Japan recognizes that the continuous strong presence of the US Navy will contribute to the security of Japan and the maintenance of peace and security of the region.”
Some local residents and lawmakers have opposed the deployment, the fifth US aircraft carrier to be stationed at Yokosuka since 1973, with anti-nuclear and anti-war rallies in recent weeks.
The carrier, approximately 97,000 tons and 333 metres long, is carrying about 5,000 personnel.