USS American during Fleet Week 2016
The USS America led the Sea and Air Parade during Fleet Week 2016. Photo by Chris Stone

The Navy announced Friday that two San Diego warships, including the fleet’s newest amphibious assault ship, will be forward deployed to Japan.

The USS America and landing platform dock USS New Orleans will transfer to Sasebo, Japan, while the guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem moves to San Diego and the USS Wasp heads for Norfolk.

The move will take the America, which is essentially a small aircraft carrier, into a region that is increasingly the focus of the Navy.

“Maintaining the most advanced ships is vital to support the United States’ commitment to the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region,” the Navy said in a statement.

The America can carry the Marines’ new F-35B Lighting II stealth fighter as well as V-22 Osprey tiltrotor transports. It can land elements of a Marine Expeditionary Unit during an amphibious assault.

The next ship in the class, the future USS Tripoli, is undergoing pre-commissioning activities in San Diego.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.