The aircraft carrier USS George Washington yesterday left the Japanese port of Yokosuka, about 175 miles (280 kilometers) south of a crippled nuclear plant, as a precautionary measure.
“Moving the USS George Washington is a precaution given the capabilities of the vessel and the complex nature of the disaster,” the 7th Fleet said in a press release. “The forward deployed carrier is scheduled to remain in the local waters off Japan.”
U.S. Navy ships and helicopters have been involved in rescue efforts following the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan’s Tohoku region on March 11. Radiation detected on U.S. aircrews operating near Fukushima prompted the relocation of some ships on March 14.
“We’ve seen nothing that rises to the level that would be harmful to human health,” Commander Jeff Davis, a Seventh Fleet spokesman, said in a phone interview from Yokosuka, about 30 miles south of Tokyo.
The battle to prevent a meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station entered its 12th day as reports increased of radiation contamination at sea and on land. Radiation levels found so far in food aren’t harmful, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a press conference yesterday.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said fuel rods at the plant have been damaged, releasing five kinds of radioactive material and contaminating seawater for the first time.
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