The U.S. Navy is in the process of switching out a number of warships forward deployed to Japan with newer vessels. The latest ships to be replaced are USS Denver (LPD-9), an Austin-class amphibious transport dock ship, and the mine countermeasure ships USS Avenger (MCM-1) and USS Defender (MCM-2), the Navy announced this week. The new San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD-20) will replace Denver at Sasebo, Japan. The long-serving ship will be decommissioned in September 2014, according to the Navy.
Meanwhile, the Avenger-class vessels Pioneer (MCM-9) and Chief (MCM-14) will arrive in Sasebo in May 2014 to replace the Avenger and Defender.
Both of the older ships will be transported back to San Diego, Calif., where they will be decommissioned.
Earlier, in February 2013, the Navy stationed the minesweeper USS Warrior (MCM 10) in Sasebo to replace USS Guardian (MCM-5), which had to be decommissioned after running aground on a coral reef in the Philippines.
The Navy has also previously announced that the Nimitz-class USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) will eventually replace the carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73)—also a Nimitz-class vessel — in Japan.
George Washington is scheduled to enter into Refueling Complex Overhaul at Newport News, Va., however there are rumors that the Pentagon hopes to retire the ship in order to save money.
However, sources have told USNI News that the White House has strenuously objected to the Defense Department’s plans. Additionally, any move to decommission the relatively new George Washington is certain to meet fierce resistance in the U.S. Congress.
A number of Congressmen have preemptively written to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reiterating their support for maintaining an 11 carrier Navy.