YOKOSUKA, Japan (Reuters) – The United States and Japan will look at the viability of using Japanese shipyards to overhaul U.S. navy warships that patrol East Asian waters, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said on Friday at the Yokosuka naval base near Tokyo.
Doing refits in Japan could help the U.S. keep more of its ships battle-ready in East Asia where China is expanding its naval power. The U.S. navy currently sends its ships back across the Pacific to shipyards at home that are wrestling with a backlog of maintenance contracts.
The U.S. Navy will need more maintenance capacity as it expands its fleet over the coming decades.
Japan hosts the biggest overseas concentration of U.S. military power, including the only forward-deployed carrier strike group, which operates from Yokosuka. The Seventh Fleet, of which it is a part, commands up to 70 ships and submarines, most of them based in Japan.
(Reporting by John Geddie and Tim Kelly; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)