The USS Chancellorsville arrived at the American base in Yokosuka, Japan, on Thursday. The warship, described as one of the most capable guided-missile cruisers in the U.S. Navy, is armed with the latest Aegis combat system, and will be permanently deployed at the base, which is located at the entrance to Tokyo Bay.
The USS Chancellorsville's Aegis Baseline 9 combat system is designed to track and guide missiles to destroy enemy targets, Russia’s TASS news agency reported, and the ship is the first of three U.S. military vessels, equipped with integrated naval weapons systems, to be deployed in the region by late 2017.
According to officials at the Yokosuka base, the deployment of three additional Aegis-equipped missile cruisers is part of a broader strategy by the U.S. government to shift its focus toward the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, the U.S. will also send 14 more ships -- led by a Ronald Reagan Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier -- to Yokosuka in the second half of this year, TASS reported, adding that the move will be the most significant one for the U.S. Navy since the end of World War II.
Japan, a close U.S. ally, said last month that it would retaliate against North Korea if Pyongyang launched a missile attack on the U.S. In April, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited Japan to highlight the two countries' security alliance in the region.
During his visit, Carter also expressed concerns over China's move to reclaim land in disputed areas of the South China Sea. The U.S. and Japan have stepped up military cooperation in the face of increasingly aggressive territorial moves by China in the region.
“We are concerned by the scope and pace of China's land reclamation activities, which are inconsistent with China's own past commitments to ASEAN countries,” Carter told Japan's Yomiuri newspaper at the time. “We are especially concerned at the prospect of militarization of these outposts. These activities seriously increase tensions and reduce prospects for diplomatic solutions.”