After nine years of calling Naval Air Station North Island its homeport, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) departed San Diego for Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan on Monday.
Ronald Reagan replaced the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) as the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier and will assume duties in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility upon arrival.
"Ronald Reagan has been embraced as America's Flagship. Not only does she have strong ties to Americans, she also has ties to the people of Japan," said Rear Adm. John Alexander, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet. "In 2011 Ronald Reagan was one of the first responders to assist in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the east coast of Japan during Operation Tomodachi. The ties that were established with the ship and our host nation will continue to grow."
Ronald Reagan successfully completed a post-hull swap assessment and sea trials, which included a flight deck certification, preparing ship and its crew to assume its new role as the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier.
Well-wishers lined up along Spanish Landing Monday to watch the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) depart San Diego for its new home port of Yokosuka, Japan. Watch video here. Staff photo by Carlos Rico
The force structure change and initiation of the historic three-crew hull swap between George Washington, Ronald Reagan and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) was put into action by George Washington's need to undergo her mid-life refueling complex overhaul (RCOH).
"USS Ronald Reagan is 11 years newer than USS George Washington (CVN 73), which means the carrier has benefited from 11 years of evolving technology," said Capt. Christopher Bolt, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer. "America's Flagship will serve our nation as a cornerstone of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces based in Yokosuka, Japan."
Ronald Reagan is scheduled to arrive in Japan in the fall of 2015 which will mark the ship's first time back to Japan since supporting Operation Tomodachi.
Ronald Reagan provides a combat-ready force that works with the navies of other nation partners to protect the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.