Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) prepare to man the rails as the ship departs Naval Base Kitsap for homeport in San Diego, Calif., on March 18. (MCS 2nd Class Scott A. McCall / Navy)
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SAN DIEGO – After 14 months away from home for extensive maintenance, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan will return to Southern California on Thursday, the Navy announced Tuesday.
The Reagan, along with its 2,500-member crew, had made a temporary homeport change in January 2012 to Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Wash., where the ship went into dry dock for a planned incremental availability at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.
The Reagan’s return to its berth at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif., will be a homecoming for the more than 600 sailors who elected to leave their families in California for the maintenance period. The Nimitz-class carrier, with sailors’ personal vehicles parked on the flight deck for the ride home, left Bremerton on Monday.
“Our crew has put in a significant amount of effort over the last year to ensure this ship is ready and able to do our nation’s work, and they are definitely ready to head home,” Capt. Thom Burke, the Reagan’s skipper, said in a statement released by Naval Air Forces in Coronado.
The Reagan had completed five deployments in the previous six years before it left North Island for the overhaul. The maintenance period, intended to help the ship reach its 50-year life span, included upgrades and work to the ship’s propulsion engines, propeller shafts and rudders along with its hull, the Navy said.