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CNO Expects GW to Call Yokosuka Home in Summer 2008

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070629-29
Release Date: 6/29/2007 5:38:00 PM


From Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- USS George Washington (CVN 73) "GW" is on track to head to Yokosuka in summer 2008, according to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen.

In his weekly podcast to the fleet - now available at www.navy.mil - Mullen said the "GW" will relieve USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), marking the first time a U.S. Navy nuclear-powered vessel will be permanently forward deployed in Japan. Mullen called it a "historic move."

“I find the city very supportive of this move for George Washington,” Mullen said of his recent visit to Yokosuka, and meeting with the city's mayor, Ryoichi Kabaya. “Many, many people have worked hard. For everybody involved in that, it’s important we focus on that and stay with that – as I like to say – until all lines are doubled and she’s in port over there.”

The plan to forward deploy George Washington to Yokosuka was not related to the balance of carriers between U.S. East and West coasts. Assigning a Nimitz-class carrier to replace Kitty Hawk is the Navy’s ongoing effort to replace older, less capable ships assigned to the Forward Deployed Naval Forces with more capable platforms. The decision also reflects the planned decommissioning of Kitty Hawk in 2008.

Mullen also emphasized the continuing importance of the U.S. Navy's relationship with Japan, and expressed his gratitude for the local support the Navy continues to enjoy.

“Japan is a vital ally in the Pacific and is very supportive of our forward-deployed presence over there," he said. "We’ve got thousands of Sailors and families who are standing us in great stead. We continue to support the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. Stability in that part of the world, security in that part of the world continues to be vital.”

During his trip, Mullen conducted several all-hands calls with Sailors in Misawa and Yokosuka. He said he found them engaged and proud of their role in contributing to regional security.

"Great Sailors," he said, are "doing absolutely spectacular work, great ambassadors for our country.”

One dramatic change Mullen noted since his last visit to Yokosuka and Misawa is the impact the Homeport Ashore program has made on the quality of life of many Sailors.

“We have almost 1,700 Sailors who have moved ashore. It’s about 40 percent of our requirement. We’re committed long-term to get all the Sailors E-4 and below under Four Ashore.”

Currently the program allows two Sailors on sea duty to share a bedroom while their ship is in port, but eventually the aim is to afford each Sailor his or her own private room.

Mullen also touched briefly on his visit to Vietnam, explaining the trip represents "the growing, as well as emerging, partnership with not just Vietnam, but maritime nations around the world.” He added that the Vietnamese are looking at strengthening their navy, and "we might be able to assist them, where they ask us to do that.”

“Our relationship is clearly improving,” Mullen continued. “All of those kinds of things are headed in a very positive direction. We face -- as we do with maritime nations around the world -- common challenges at sea, whether it’s weapons of mass destruction, piracy, fisheries violations, protection of our economic sea-lanes, which are so vital to all of us. It’s all part of this '1,000-ship navy', which is taking root in the Pacific as it is in other places around the world.”

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