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U.S. Navy Shuffle Japan-based Minesweepers and Amphibious Ship

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USS Denver (LPD-9) in August, 2013, US Navy Photo

USS Denver (LPD-9) in August, 2013, US Navy Photo

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.

U.S. Avenger class minesweepers on manvuers with Royal Navy ships on Sept. 20, 2012. US Navy Photo

U.S. Avenger class minesweepers on manvuers with Royal Navy ships on Sept. 20, 2012. US Navy Photo

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.

  • Marcd30319

    So this is what the Obama administration mean by its Pacific Pivot — replace current forward-based warships in Japan with newer ships and then sent the older ships to be decommissioned. Less navy, same commitments, longer deployments, more downtime between deployments, lesser presence.

    • vincedc

      San Antonio class Amphibs are in full production.

      • Marcd30319

        True, but decommission the Denver still represents a net loss albeit temporary.

  • @NotRizzo

    Are they doing hull swaps or are those Japan based crews (and family) coming home too?