May 27, 2014

USS George Washington departs Yokosuka; carrier’s future uncertain

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington embarked Saturday on what is likely one of its last patrols of the western Pacific Ocean as a Japan-based carrier.
About 5,500 sailors, Marines and other personnel left Yokosuka for a cruise that will include multiple port visits throughout Asia, as well as exercises at sea with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Long-term patrols for a carrier generally run about six months, though they have been lasting considerably longer recently. The USS Truman returned to Virginia in April after nearly nine months away.
Some carriers, like George Washington, often return to their homeport for a mid-patrol break.
In the summer of 2015, USS Ronald Reagan is scheduled to replace George Washington as the Navy’s Japan-deployed carrier.
USS George Washington’s future remains uncertain after that.
The ship is scheduled for a mid-life nuclear refueling and maintenance overhaul in 2016, which would take up to four years to finish. Some lawmakers and Pentagon officials have suggested retiring the ship instead, in order to meet mandatory budget caps on defense spending.

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