Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan returns to homeport in Japan after 3 months at sea
Stars and Stripes August 25, 2023
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The USS Ronald Reagan steamed into Tokyo Bay on Friday for what is likely a routine, mid-deployment stop three months into its annual Indo-Pacific patrol.
The aircraft carrier, which left its homeport on May 23, was greeted pierside by about 100 people, including family and friends, after 93 days at sea. Its six-month patrol typically begins in late spring.
The media was not invited to cover the ship’s arrival.
Ronald Reagan spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Phillip Chitty, in a Friday email to Stars and Stripes, declined to confirm whether this is part of a routine stop, or what the crew will be doing in Yokosuka. He also would not say how long the carrier will be in port, citing operational security concerns.
“USS Ronald Reagan arrived in Yokosuka after a patrol maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific in the U.S. 7th fleet area of responsibility,” he wrote.
This patrol is likely the last from Japan for the Ronald Reagan. Sometime next year, the carrier is expected to relocate to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., for a scheduled maintenance period. The aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which the Ronald Reagan replaced in 2015, is expected to return to Yokosuka.
The Ronald Reagan has been busy on this deployment with flight operations, at-sea replenishments and other engagements.
Almost immediately after leaving Yokosuka, the Ronald Reagan and its strike group took part in a dual-carrier drill in the Philippine Sea alongside the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Izumo and two frigates from France and Canada.
Three days after that Navy-led exercise, China kicked off a series of military drills several hundred miles to west near Taiwan, although Beijing did not declare it to be a response to the carrier’s activities.
On June 25, the Ronald Reagan made a historic visit to Da Nang, Vietnam, where it became the third U.S. aircraft carrier to visit the country since the Vietnam War ended in 1975 and the first to visit since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The Ronald Reagan crew on July 30 celebrated at sea the carrier’s 20th year of service – it was commissioned July 12, 2003, at Norfolk Naval Station, Va.
In late July and early August, the carrier participated in Talisman Sabre, the biennial exercise coordinated between the U.S., Australia and a multitude of other countries.
The carrier and its contingent of aircraft, Carrier Air Wing 5, coordinated air exercises with the U.S. and Australian forces in the Indian Ocean, according to news releases from Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Pacific Fleet.