US Navy ‘tracking’ ship arrives at Japan port prior to N. Korea missile test: Report
Preparation for possible shootdown?
Asahi Digital News reported that the US Navy missile tracking ship USNS Howard O. Lorenzen arrived at Sasebo Port in Sasebo City, Nagasaki on Feb. 3. The US move comes as the Japanese military says it is ready to shoot down any North Korean test missile that threatens Japan.
US Navy officials have not given a reason for the Lorenzen’s docking at Sasebo. But a local activist group, “RIMPEACE,” says that it is part of a US-Japan response to “North Korea’s planned missile launch.”
The Lorenzen is a missile range instrumentation ship equipped with large radar capacity to track missiles and rockets. The US Navy uses the ship to monitor the capability of domestic and foreign missiles.
Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani on Wednesday ordered ballistic missile defense units, including Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan and Patriot missile batteries onshore, to be ready to shoot down any North Korean rocket that threatens Japan’s security.
Japan’s decision to put its military on heightened alert comes after North Korea told the United Nations it plans to launch a satellite as early as next week, a move that could advance Pyongyang’s long-range missile technology following its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6.
South Korea said earlier on Wednesday that the planned satellite launch was really a plan to launch a long-range missile and warned that the North will pay a “severe price” if it goes ahead.