Kitty Hawk and other U.S. warships' visit to Hong Kong canceled

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Friday, November 23, 2007

USS Kitty Hawk CV-63

The United States aircraft-carrier USS Kitty Hawk CV-63 and the rest of her carrier-group, were scheduled to make a port visit to Hong Kong the Thanksgiving holiday. Without warning China refused to allow the Kitty Hawk to dock, before reversing the decision without explanation. However, by that time bad weather and logistics forced the Kitty Hawk and its attendant ships to return to Japan.

This left many families of sailors who had intended to spend the holiday in Hong Kong without their family members from the ships. The crews instead celebrated the holiday on board their ships.

China has not explained why the carrier group was denied entry nor why the sudden reversal of the decision occurred. Admiral Timothy Keating, the commander for the U.S. forces in the Pacific, said that he did not understand why China had made its decision and was "concerned".

This is not the first time that China had denied entry to U.S. ships, but previous denials have occurred in response to tension or diplomatic disputes and there was no obvious motivation for the recent Chinese decision. Speculated reasons for the decision include possible responses to disagreements over Iran's nuclear program and the recent United States decision to give a medal to the Dalai Lama.

This visit was to be the last visit of the Kitty Hawk to Hong Kong, as the Kitty Hawk is scheduled to be decommissioned when the new USS George Washington (CVN-73), a modern nuclear powered carrier, comes align.