Slowdown unlikely for Navy’s Japan-based fleet
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Navy’s operational tempo in the Asia-Pacific region isn’t likely to relax anytime soon as the threat from North Korea continues, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told sailors in Japan on Tuesday.
The 7th Fleet ships at Yokosuka, home of the largest Navy base overseas, include several ballistic missile defense-capable destroyers and cruisers that represent a major defense component against a potential North Korean attack.
“We’re very busy these days, and you guys know that out here in the Asia-Pacific — your ops tempo is extremely high,” Carter told the crew of the destroyer USS John S. McCain. “North Korea, for example, [there is a] serious need for deterrence and defense that only we can provide.”
North Korea has continued developing its nuclear program and testing ballistic missiles despite international sanctions and condemnation.
Carter’s trip to Japan, which is likely his last as defense secretary, is largely viewed as a visit to reassure a key ally in the weeks prior to President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.
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