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USS George Washington Will Move to Japan in 2024

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The carrier USS George Washington will shift homeports in 2024, replacing the USS Ronald Reagan in Yokosuka, Japan.

The shift was announced April 28 by Commander Naval Air Forces as the Washington nears the end of its mid-life refueling and complex overhaul at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division, where the carrier has been a fixture since 2017.

This will mark the second time the Washington has been homeported in Japan, having arrived in 2008 as the first nuclear aircraft carrier to be deployed to Japan before it was relieved by the Reagan in 2015.

“The United States values Japan’s contributions to the peace, security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific and its long-term commitment and hospitality in hosting forward-deployed U.S. forces. These forces, along with their counterparts in the Japan Self-Defense Forces, make up the core capabilities needed by the alliance to meet our common strategic objectives,” the Naval Air Force command said in a press release.

According to HII’s 2022 fourth quarter report released in February 2023, the Washington’s midlife overhaul was approximately 98% complete. The refueling and complex overhaul of an aircraft carrier is a multi-year project performed only once during a carrier’s 50-year service life that includes refueling the ship’s two nuclear reactors, as well as significant repairs, upgrades and modernization.

The overhaul was scheduled to be complete in 2021, but pandemic-related supply chain issues strained the program. From April 2022 to January 2023, four sailors assigned to the Washington died by apparent suicide. A Navy report issued in December concluded three of the deaths, all of which occurred in April 2022, were not connected.

A redelivery date for the Washington is expected later this year, according to Chris Kastner, HII’s president.

The USS Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, is currently forward deployed to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet area of operations. The warship is slated to relocate to Bremerton, Washington, to conduct a scheduled docking planned incremental availability period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

Commander Naval Air Forces said more details will be announced closer to the movement of the carriers.

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