USS Ronald Reagan heads to Yokosuka to replace George Washington
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The USS Ronald Reagan is about to become the Navy’s latest forward-deployed aircraft carrier in the Asia-Pacific region.
Reagan’s departure Monday from San Diego is part of the three-carrier swap involving the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS George Washington.
The more modern Reagan is replacing the George Washington, which departed Yokosuka Naval Base for San Diego in May. After a crew swap in August, nearly two-thirds of the servicemembers who departed Japan aboard the George Washington are returning to Yokosuka on the Reagan.
“We are sending our most modern West Coast-based aircraft carrier to support the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and our allies,” said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander of Naval Air Forces.
The carrier swap is part of the rebalancing strategy in the Pacific, an area that the Obama administration and the Pentagon have deemed their highest long-term priority. The arrival of the Reagan is one of many shake-ups occurring in 7th Fleet Pacific Forces. The modernized guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville arrived in Yokosuka in May, bolstering 7th Fleet forces in the area.
Reagan, commissioned in 2003, is the second-newest carrier behind the USS George H.W. Bush. Reagan previously played a big role during Operation Tomodachi, the U.S. military’s relief effort after Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The ship served as a floating refueling station for Japanese and U.S. helicopters flying relief missions to the battered coast.