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Aircraft carrier Reagan returns to Yokosuka, Japan, after six-month deployment

The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan has returned to its homeport in Yokosuka, Japan, after an eventful six-month deployment that featured several high-end exercises.

After a delay in May following sea trials and in-port repairs, Reagan kicked off its six-month annual “spring” patrol in the Indo-Pacific region in June and arrived back at Yokosuka Naval Base Saturday.

As part of the deployment, the Reagan and its carrier strike group sailed through the South China Sea multiple times, including last month to conduct flight operations, maritime strike exercises and other exercises with Carrier Air Wing 5, the guided-missile cruiser Antietam and the guided-missile destroyers John S. McCain and Halsey.

Likewise, Reagan’s carrier strike group also teamed up with the aircraft carrier Nimitz and its respective carrier strike group for high-end dual carrier exercises in the South China Sea.

The Reagan was also involved in exercises Valiant Shield and Keen Sword during the deployment, and conducted trilateral integrated operations with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Navy.

Altogether, Reagan sailed 60,000 miles and its embarked Carrier Air Wing 5 racked up more than 20,000 flight hours, the Navy said.

“Ronald Reagan’s flexible presence is a key element in helping assure our regional allies and partners that the United States remains committed to ensuring freedom of the seas,” Capt. Fred Goldhammer, commanding officer of the Reagan, said in a Navy news release. “From the international dateline to the Indian Ocean to the Philippine Sea, and everywhere in between, on board Ronald Reagan we seek to preserve ‘peace through strength,’ and remain ready to answer the call.”

An F/A-18E assigned to the “Royal Maces” of Strike Fighter Squadron 27 launches off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan Oct. 15 in the South China Sea. (MC2 Codie L. Soule/Navy)
An F/A-18E assigned to the “Royal Maces” of Strike Fighter Squadron 27 launches off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan Oct. 15 in the South China Sea. (MC2 Codie L. Soule/Navy)

In order to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19, sailors exited the Reagan in a “socially-distanced manner” and a livestream of the Reagan’s return was shared on Facebook, the Navy said.

“The USS Ronald Reagan family is excited to be home and realize how special each Sailor’s reunion with their family and friends will be,” Goldhammer said. “This year’s homecoming may look a little different, but with everybody’s cooperation and patience on base and within the local community, our homecoming is just as special as any other year.”

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