Jiji PressNAGASAKI (Jiji Press) — The number of calls by U.S. Navy nuclear submarines to Sasebo Port in Nagasaki Prefecture hit a record high of 26 last year, it was learned Saturday.
The previous high was 24, marked in 2016, Sasebo city government officials said.
The strategic importance of Sasebo, which hosts a U.S. naval base, one of the closest U.S. military bases in Japan to the Korean Peninsula, is believed to grow amid heightened tensions over North Korea.
Such port calls, ranging from a day to a week, are intended for rest for crew members and refueling, according to the U.S. side.
Such submarines are believed to gather intelligence on North Korea’s missile launches and Chinese naval activities, a Japanese Self-Defense Forces source said.
Elsewhere in 2017, the number of port calls by U.S. nuclear submarines came to 17 at the White Beach Naval Facility in Uruma in Okinawa, against 21 in 2016, and to 16 at the Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture, against 17.