The U.S. Navy is modifying Japan’s Sasebo base so that it can host high-tech Zumwalt-class stealth destroyer ships. The Japan Times reports:
It is not known when a Zumwalt-class missile destroyer will arrive at Sasebo. The Navy is scheduled to receive the delivery of its second ship in the class in fiscal 2017. The first vessel will be home-ported in San Diego.
Meanwhile, the pier repairs at Sasebo appear to be in line with the U.S. military’s strategy of deploying its newest weapons in the Asia-Pacific region.
With China looming and North Korea lurking nearby, Tokyo has plenty of reason to welcome American reinforcements. So we may see more renovations of Japanese ports over the next few years to permit the U.S. Navy to dock its ships in them. The Zumwalt-class destroyer incorporates some of the Navy’s latest technologies. CNN ran a profile of it in 2014:
Much of the ship is built on angles that help make it 50 times harder to spot on radar than an ordinary destroyer. “It has the radar cross-section of a fishing boat,” Chris Johnson, a spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told CNN last year.
In its current configuration, the Zumwalt will carry a considerable arsenal of weapons, including two Advanced Gun Systems (AGS), which can fire rocket-powered, computer-guided shells that can destroy targets 63 miles away. That’s three times farther than ordinary destroyer guns can fire.
The U.S. intention to station these ships in Japan is a reminder to China of the sophistication of U.S. weapons systems. With China upgrading its own naval capabilities and putting greater emphasis on maritime territorial claims in the South China and East China Seas, this arms race between Washington and Beijing is one to keep an eye on.