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    U.S. Navy Carrier USS Ronald Reagan Bids Farewell to Japan Amid Rising Tensions

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    Carrier USS Ronald Reagan Arrives in Japan (October 1, 2015)” by manhhai is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    As the USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, departs from its Japanese home port of Yokosuka, it marks the end of nearly a decade of deployment in a region rife with growing security challenges.

    The departure of USS Ronald Reagan — one of America’s largest warships and a nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier — comes at a time of growing tension in the face of increasingly assertive China in the Indo-Pacific.

    060618-N-8492C-276 Pacific Ocean (June 18, 2006) – The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), foreground, USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), center, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and their associated carrier strike groups steam in formation while 17 aircraft from the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps fly over them during a joint photo exercise (PHOTOEX) while preparing for exercise Valiant Shield 2006. Valiant Shield focuses on integrated joint training among U.S. military forces, enabling real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces and in detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land and cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas. U.S. Navy photo by Chief PhotographerÕs Mate Todd P. Cichonowicz (RELEASED)

    On Thursday, in a poignant farewell, the USS Ronald Reagan was sent off by families and friends of its sailors, who lined the rails of the mighty warship, uttering “dewa mata” — “see you” in Japanese.

    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

    The aircraft carrier, one of the largest in the American fleet, has been a reassuring presence in the Indo-Pacific since it first arrived at Yokosuka Naval Base in 2015.

    The JMSDF helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DH-183) sails alongside USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Earlier, during its deployment near the Korean Peninsula, the carrier contributed to Operation Tomodachi, following the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in northeastern Japan.

    From participating in dozens of multilateral exercises to visiting more than a dozen foreign ports, including a historic port call to Da Nang, Vietnam, last year, the USS Ronald Reagan has showcased the United States’ commitment to freedom of navigation and the maintenance of peace and stability.

    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

    U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel emphasized the importance of the carrier’s mission, stating, “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.”

    USS Ronald Reagan steam alongside ships from the Republic of Korea Navy.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    This assurance came at a time when tensions continue to simmer in the East China Sea over the Senkaku Islands, a group of uninhabited islets controlled by Japan but claimed by China, where it is known as Diaoyu.

    USS Ronald Reagan patrols waters south of Japan.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Former Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada underscored the urgency of the situation, asserting, “We have a sense of urgency that we must not let the East China Sea become another South China Sea.”

    USS Ronald Reagan patrols the Philippine Sea after departing Guam.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    In a show of resilience and sovereignty, Inada joined an environmental survey trip near the disputed islands, where they deployed drones for land and vegetation surveys, a move that drew protest from China.

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

    USS Ronald Reagan was the only American aircraft carrier deployed as a flagship of the Carrier Strike Group 5 under the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, to a home port outside the U.S.

    Four E-2C Hawkeyes fly over USS Ronald Reagan.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The carrier, accompanied by the two guided-missile destroyers USS Robert Smalls and USS Howard, is scheduled to transit in Bremerton, Washington, before moving on to its next assignment.

    USS Ronald Reagan” by chukpike is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The impending arrival of its successor, USS George Washington, another formidable Nimitz-class carrier, currently near South America, promises a “seamless transition,” according to Ambassador Emanuel.

    U.S. Navy and Japan Air Self-Defense Force aircraft fly in formation over USS Ronald Reagan.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The carrier was accompanied by two guided-missile destroyers, USS Robert Smalls and USS Howard. It is scheduled to transit in Bremerton, Washington, later this year, before heading to a next home port assignment.

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

    While tensions have escalated in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines and a number of other countries over maritime and territorial disputes, Japan is concerned about its dispute with China over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

    Relevant articles:
    USS Ronald Reagan leaves its Japan home port after nearly 9 years, AP News
    USS Ronald Reagan leaves its Japan home port after nearly 9 years, ABC News – Breaking News, Latest News and Videos
    USS Ronald Reagan leaves its Japan home port after nearly 9 years, The Washington Post

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