The USS Ronald Reagan strike group departed the disaster relief mission in Japan on Monday night, the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet confirmed Tuesday.

The aircraft carrier, along with guided-missile cruiser USS Chancelorville and destroyer USS Preble, was diverted from a regularly scheduled deployment in the Western Pacific to the demolished northeastern coast of the country shortly after the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The departure comes as the U.S. military repositions forces to focus on ground relief operations about 189 miles northeast of Tokyo in Miyagi prefecture, which includes the devastated areas of Sendai and Ishinomaki cities.

The Navy will keep seven other ships and about 5,000 servicemembers, including the USS Essex amphibious group and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, in the area to help with relief operations, 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Jeff Davis said.

The Ronald Reagan strike group departed after a visit and thanks by Japan Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa. Davis said he could not comment on where the strike group will go now but that it is expected to continue with its previously scheduled mission.

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