Ambassador Schieffer meets with Yokosuka Mayor Kabaya

November 10, 2005

Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer met with Ryoichi Kabaya, mayor of Yokosuka, on Thursday afternoon, November 10, at the American Embassy.

Mayor Kabaya requested that the U.S. Navy reconsider its recent decision to replace the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk with a nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. The Mayor presented a petition and explained the feelings of Yokosuka citizens.

Ambassador Schieffer made three points in reply:

  1. The decision was reached only after careful consideration of Japanese views, including the views of Mayor Kabaya and former mayor Sawada, with whom Ambassador Schieffer, and Ambassador Baker before him, had met on several occasions. The Navy tried very hard to accommodate the request of the two mayors to replace Kitty Hawk with another conventional carrier, but after detailed study, concluded that neither the USS John F. Kennedy or USS Kitty Hawk were viable options to fulfill the critical and high-tempo mission of the Forward Deployed Naval Force's aircraft carrier beyond 2008, and that a more capable Nimitz-class nuclear-powered carrier was required to defend Japan and help maintain peace and stability in Asia. Moreover, the Ambassador said the Chief of Naval Operations told him that the Navy was moving to an entirely nuclear-powered carrier fleet.

  2. The safety of American nuclear powered vessels is impeccable. Nuclear-powered warships, including nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, have made over 1200 visits to Japan since 1964. Both the U.S. and Japanese governments have monitored these visits and taken water and soil samples. Data from these two safety verification programs shows that there has never been a single incident of damage to human health or the environment. Moreover, the Navy has homeported nuclear-powered warships in U.S. ports since 1955. At present, five nuclear-powered carriers are homeported in Norfolk, Virgina, two in the Seattle metropolitan area, and two in San Diego.

  3. The Ambassador thanked Mayor Kabaya for the friendship and hospitality that Yokosuka has always displayed to the U.S. Navy, and he reiterated that the United States would continue to place the highest importance on safe operations and training.