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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff  & Agencies 

Ishigaki City, located in the Okinawa prefecture of Japan, has rejected a request for the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) to enter the city’s port in mid-March. The decision compels the American warship to anchor off the coast of Ishigaki Island, with plans to bring the crew ashore through an alternative method, as revealed by sources familiar with the matter on February 13.

Originally scheduled for a port call in Ishigaki Island from March 11 to 14 for rest and replenishment, the USS Rafael Peralta faced an unexpected denial on February 9. The city’s decision was based on concerns that the destroyer’s draft exceeded the safety standards for port use. The destroyer’s draft is 9.8 meters, while the deepest quay in the Ishigaki Port is 10.5 meters.

The Japan Ports and Harbors Association has established a standard for safe port use, calculating “required water depth = draft of the incoming vessel x 1.1.” Applying this formula to the destroyer’s draft yields a required water depth of 10.78 meters, surpassing the Ishigaki Port’s depth. Consequently, the city’s port and harbor department determined that the destroyer could not enter the port, citing the absence of a quay capable of accommodating the vessel.

As an alternative, the U.S. Navy is planning to anchor the destroyer offshore, transfer the crew to another ship, and then land them on the island without docking at Ishigaki Port. The Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper in Okinawa reported that the destroyer would be anchored at a quarantine anchorage approximately 3 kilometers offshore from the berth of the Ishigaki Port.

This development marks the first port call to Ishigaki Island by either a U.S. military Aegis warship or a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Aegis destroyer. Ishigaki Island holds geopolitical significance due to its proximity to Taiwan and the disputed Senkaku islands, also known as the Diaoyu islands in China, within the so-called “first island chain.”

Given the strategic importance of Ishigaki Island and its connection to regional tensions involving China, the U.S. Aegis ship’s port call is seen as a move to address potential contingencies related to Senkaku and Taiwan by establishing a foothold in the area. Simultaneously, China has been intensifying efforts to assert control over the region west of the first island chain.

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    Thanks, Japan, for keeping America safe. America has your back, also!