The amphibious assault ship Wasp, freshly upgraded to launch and land F-35B joint strike fighters, arrived at its new homeport in Japan on Sunday.
The arrival is part of a long-planned homeport swap with the USS Bonhomme Richard, which will head to San Diego after a patrol, the Navy said.
“The arrival of USS Wasp represents an increase in military capability and a commitment to our partners and allies for security and stability in the region,” Capt. Colby Howard, Wasp commanding officer, said in a Navy release. “Paired with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, we remain ready to execute the full range of military operations from crisis response to disaster relief.”
By arriving at Fleet Activities Sasebo, Wasp joins the Forward Deployed Naval Forces, which other warships and aircraft.
Amphibious assault ship #USSWasp arrives in her new homeport, Sasebo, Japan and relieves #USSBonhommeRichard as the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations https://t.co/F4p8cwQ2qZ pic.twitter.com/Mk97yCWVCf— DVIDSHub (@DVIDSHub) January 14, 2018
The ship's movement is part of the normal cycle of FDNF deployments, but as with other major military arrivals in the Western Pacific, takes on new significance as the U.S. and Asian countries deals with North Korea's missile and nuclear tests.
The F-35B is the Marine Corps version of the tri-service jet, and is capable of launching and landing vertically. Wasp-class amphibious assault ships are smaller than the Navy's supercarriers, and include well decks that can be flooded to launch landing craft.
F-35s, along with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, are scheduled to embark on Wasp when Expeditionary Strike Group 7 heads out on regular patrol this year.
"It's an exciting time to be in the Navy, and an exciting time for Wasp and her crew, given the wide variety of missions we have the opportunity to support," Wasp's Command Master Chief Gregory Carlson said in the Navy release.