The 46-year-old vessel - the only American aircraft carrier permanently deployed abroad - eased out of its berth at the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka, just south of Tokyo, escorted by a carrier strike group of cruisers and guided missile destroyers, Naval spokesman John Nylander said.
The voyage, to last several months in the western and central Pacific Ocean, was expected to be the last major mission for the ship before it is replaced next year by the USS George Washington and sent back to the United States for decommissioning, said Rear Adm. Richard B. Wren, commander of the Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group.
"This is the last trip for USS Kitty Hawk," Wren told reporters.
The Kitty Hawk, with a crew of more than 5,500, was commissioned in 1961 and has served in
The diesel-powered ship was deployed to
But the vessel's replacement sparked a backlash in
Nuclear-powered warships have visited Japanese ports hundreds of times since 1964, and the