U.S. to replace Yokosuka's nuke-powered carrier in latter half of 2015

The U.S. Navy will switch its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at Yokosuka Naval Base, the George Washington, with another in the same class, the Ronald Reagan, in the latter half of 2015, Yokosuka Mayor Yuto Yoshida said Wednesday.

Yoshida told a news conference he had obtained the information from a Japanese Foreign Ministry official, who visited the city government earlier in the day.

The mayor said he will approve the city's continued hosting of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier as the deployment "serves to protect Japan's security."

Yoshida also said he urged the ministry to ask the U.S. Navy to ensure that its service personnel behave appropriately in their dealings with local residents.

The city will review its antidisaster measures by the end of fiscal 2014 in light of the possibility that an accident related to the ship's nuclear propulsion system could occur, Yoshida added.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy said it will send back the George Washington to a Virginia shipyard for fuel replenishment, which is required every 25 years.

The carrier was first sent to Yokosuka in 2008, the U.S. Navy's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be based overseas.

Its replacement, the Ronald Reagan, came into service in 2003 and was used in the Operation Tomodachi relief mission shortly after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.