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    USS Ronald Reagan Bids Farewell to Japan, Signals Historic Naval Shift

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    USS McCampbell (DDG-85) comes alongside USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) for a refueling” by manhhai is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    Nearly 400 sailors in their dress whites lined the USS Ronald Reagan as the mammoth aircraft carrier steamed out of Tokyo Bay, marking the end of an era for the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.

    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)” by manhhai is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    During its tenure at Yokosuka, the carrier took part in dozens of multinational exercises, visited more than 15 foreign ports and covered more than 460,000 miles on its annual, six-month deployments, according to U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel.

    Multiple aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 5 fly in over USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    As the sun rose on Yokosuka Naval Base, the emotional departure underscored the close ties and strategic commitment between the United States and its Indo-Pacific allies.

    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) transits the Philippine Sea with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers JS Ohnami (DD 111) and JS Yamagiri (DD 152).” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    “For the past nine years, the USS Ronald Reagan and her crew have ensured that millions of people across the Indo-Pacific have been able to live their lives free of coercion, aggression, and suppression,” said Emanuel.

    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Benfold (DDG 65) train with Republic of Korea navy surface ships in the Philippine Sea.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Commissioned in 2003, the USS Ronald Reagan has been a formidable presence in the region, not just in military operations, but as a floating ambassador during visits to over 15 foreign ports.

    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) conducts flight operations.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The carrier, home to over 5,000 sailors and 60 aircraft, has led the Navy’s only forward-deployed Carrier Strike Group 5, demonstrating America’s “tangible sign of commitment to our closest allies here and throughout the region,” as Rear Adm. Gregory Newkirk, the strike group commander, put it.

    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and S Hyuga (DDH 181), right, sail in formation with 16 other ships.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The carrier’s historic tenure saw it provide critical cover for U.S. troops withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2021, flying F-18 Super Hornet missions over Kabul.

    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) sails alongside the JMSDF guided-missile destroyer JS Myoko (DDG-175).” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Its power was showcased alongside the British navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth and later, in a 17-ship armada drill, with the USS Carl Vinson.

    F/A-18E Super Hornets attached to the Royal Maces of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 prepare for launch aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) in the Philippine Sea.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    A visit to Da Nang, Vietnam, in 2022, solidified the USS Ronald Reagan’s symbolic role, as it became only the third carrier of its class to dock in Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War.

    An EA-18G Growler takes off from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during Keen Sword 21.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    For Dominic DeBernardis, the husband of Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashli DeBernardis, the situation was hard to describe. “I don’t know how I feel,” he said, adding that his wife would return to Yokosuka with the George Washington. “This is the first time my wife is deploying.”

    An MH-60S Sea Hawk, attached to the ‘Island Knights’ of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, delivers supplies to the flight deck of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during a replenishment-at-sea.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The USS George Washington is en route to Japan via South America, part of the U.S. 4th Fleet’s Southern Seas 2024 event.

    ( CVN-76 ) USS Ronald Reagan” by Prayitno / Thank you for (12 millions +) view is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    It will sail with partner nation warships, making port calls in Brazil, Chile, and Peru before relieving the USS Ronald Reagan in California later this summer.

    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)” by aeroman3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    “George Washington will relieve USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) as the forward-deployed naval forces (FDNF) aircraft carrier during a historic carrier swap at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., this summer. This will mark the second time George Washington has served as the FDNF aircraft carrier, arriving in Japan in 2008 as the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be forward deployed to Japan before being relieved by Ronald Reagan in 2015,” reads a statement from Naval Air Force Atlantic.

    USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) refuel at sea.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The George Washington brings its own history, having recently completed a mid-life nuclear refueling and an overhaul that extended due to unforeseen challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) conduct a vertical replenishment.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    As the USS Ronald Reagan sails toward Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, it leaves behind a legacy of strength, commitment, and partnership in the Indo-Pacific.

    Relevant articles:
    USS Ronald Reagan takes leave of Japanese port it has called home since 2015, Stars and Stripes
    USS Ronald Reagan enters ‘underway period’ ahead of homeport shift from Japan, Stars and Stripes
    USS George Washington to Depart for Japan via South America, USNI News
    History, Commander, Naval Air Force, US Pacific Fleet (.mil)

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