Nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier arrives in Japan

Other News Materials 25 September 2008 09:52 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The arrival Thursday of the USS George Washington, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be permanently deployed at a Japanese port, sparked protests by anti-nuclear activists and residents of central Japan.

The demonstrators at Yokosuka port were concerned about nuclear safety with the carrier stationed just 45 kilometers south of Tokyo.

The city of Yokosuka prepared for the arrival of the carrier by dredging its harbour and installing radioactive monitors as the US government and military assured Japan of the safety of nuclear-powered vessels in its fleet.

But safety concerns were heightened after a fire on board the George Washington and the leakage of radioactive water from the US nuclear-powered submarine Houston during past port calls in Japan.

The blaze on the George Washington occurred in May off South America and delayed the arrival in Japan of one of the world's largest ships by about a month.

Powered by two nuclear reactors with a thermal output of about 600,000 kilowatts each, the George Washington weighs 97,000 tons and is 330 metres long. It carries about 5,600 personnel and more than 70 airplanes.

After a five-month journey from Norfolk, Virginia, it replaced the conventionally powered USS Kitty Hawk.