Carrier USS Ronald Reagan Leaves Japan for the Last Time

May 16, 2024 3:00 PM
Sailors stand in formation to form Japanese hiragana characters spelling “dewa mata,” which translates to “see you again,” on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), in the Tokyo Inlet, May 10, 2024. US Navy Photo

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group left Yokosuka, Japan, on Thursday to carry out its last Indo-Pacific patrol as the Forward Deployed Naval Force–Japan (FDNF-J) aircraft carrier before returning to the United States later this year. Meanwhile, the Theodore Roosevelt CSG arrived in Singapore for a port visit, and a number of nonregional navies are also deployed in South East Asia on engagement and exercises.

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), together with cruiser USS Robert Smalls (C-62) and destroyer USS Howard (DDG-83), left Yokosuka on Thursday with U.S. Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, Japanese government officials and senior leaders from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) seeing the carrier off for its last Japan-based Indo-Pacific patrol, according to U.S. 7th fleet release.

“On behalf of the strike group, I want to express my gratitude to the people of Japan and city of Yokosuka. You are our friends, family and our close and trusted allies,” said Rear Adm. Greg Newkirk, commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5, in the release. “Our relationship with Japan and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has never been stronger.”

Reagan is scheduled to turn over with USS George Washington (CVN-73) and then transit to Bremerton, Washington, later this year. USNI News previously reported that Reagan will conduct an overhaul in Washington state before its permanent homeport assignment. Washington is currently operating around South America, conducting a U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet’s Southern Seas 2024 deployment.

Meanwhile, the Theodore Roosevelt CSG, which has been operating in the South China Sea, dropped into Singapore for a port visit on Thursday, according to a social media post by carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The carrier was accompanied by destroyers USS Russell (DDG-59), USS Hasley (DDG-97) and USS Daniel Inouye (DDG-118). The visit is the second time the CSG has dropped into Singapore during its current deployment, having conducted an earlier visit in March.

In other developments, California newspaper Daily Breeze reported that aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) will be taking part in L.A. Fleet Week, which will be held from May 22 to 27 at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, Calif. USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), meanwhile, is scheduled to take part in the Rim of the Pacific 2024 (RIMPAC 2024) in Hawaii this summer.

Following its completion of Exercise Balikatan in the Philippines, amphibious warship USS Somerset (LPD-25), along with its embarked complement of marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), is now carrying out the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Indonesia 2024 exercise with the Indonesian Navy and Indonesian Marine Corps. The exercise is being held in the city of Bandar Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia, from May 13 to 20, according to a 15th MEU release. Amphibious landing ship dock USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49), which also took part in the Balikatan exercise and carries elements of the 15th MEU embarked on it, is currently operating in the South China Sea.

Several regional navies are also currently operating in South East Asia on presence and engagement deployments. The Indian Navy Eastern Fleet is on an operational deployment to the South China Sea, with a surface action group including destroyer INS Delhi (D61), corvette INS Kiltan (P30) and fleet oiler INS Shakti (A57). The Indian Navy has not stated how long the deployment will be, only announcing the group’s arrival in Singapore on May 7 for a port visit. The group is currently split, with Kiltan arriving in Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam, on Sunday for a port visit, while Delhi and Shakti wrapped up a port visit to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, on Wednesday, having arrived there on Sunday.

On Wednesday, Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Tromp (F803) arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, for a port visit. Royal Netherlands Navy Chief, Vice Adm. Rene Tas, who is on an official visit to Indonesia, was there to greet the frigate as it arrived. Tromp is on an Indo-Pacific deployment called Pacific Archer, which will also see the frigate take part in RIMPAC 2024 and subsequently return home to the Netherlands via South America and the Atlantic Ocean.

Heading to Jakarta for a port visit from Friday to Sunday is Turkish Navy corvette TCG Kinaliada (F514), which completed a port visit to Port Klang, Malaysia, from Monday to Wednesday. Kinaliada left Turkey on Apr. 8 for a four-month voyage to Japan and back, commemorating Japan’s rescue of sailors from Ottoman frigate Ertugrul, which sank off Japan in 1890. The corvette is carrying out numerous engagement visits during its voyage, which includes stops in South Asia and the Middle East on its return voyage.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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