TOKYO – The U.S. Navy said Friday that it will deploy its guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell at Japan's Yokosuka naval base, taking over from frigate USS Gary as the navy moves to replace some of its aging fleet.
The Aegis destroyer is scheduled to arrive in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, in June, and USS Gary will return to the U.S., the navy said.
The deployment of McCampbell is to increase missile defense capabilities around Japan. The U.S. Navy will have nine Aegis-equipped vessels at Yokosuka, Kyodo News agency said.
On Thursday, the U.S. and Japan agreed to speed up deployment of a missile defense system amid concerns over North Korea's weapons program.
The agreement came at a meeting between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam, Japanese officials said.
Missile defense has been a major issue for Japan's military in the months since North Korea test-fired a long-range ballistic missile in July.
Those concerns intensified with the North's test of a nuclear device on Oct. 9. Japan is home to some 50,000 U.S. troops and is considered a prime target of communist North Korea's weapons programs.