PHILIPPINE SEA -- The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is underway serving as America’s strongest symbol of resolve, navigating the global pandemic as its mission endures, in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
This deployment marks USS Ronald Reagan’s (CVN 76) fifth year of service as part of U.S. forward-deployed naval forces. Reagan, along with Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW 5), represents the cornerstone of the Strike Group's capability to sustain presence, project power, fight and win decisively from the sea.
“In a testament to our namesake’s slogan, the Reagan crew has proven time and again that whatever challenge we face, It CAN Be Done,” said Capt. Pat Hannifin, Reagan’s commanding officer. “Our team has embraced this motto, completing in port maintenance ahead of schedule, doing our part for the health protection and warfighting readiness of the Navy, and continuing to stand the watch as America’s away team.”
To protect the health of the Strike Group amid the global coronavirus pandemic, Sailors completed a phased restriction of movement (ROM) with the support of several U.S. military facilities in Japan, and embarked the ship following required medical testing in compliance with recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Navy and Marine Corps Public Health.
“These extraordinary measures of precaution were implemented because the health and safety of our Sailors is front and center to our warfighting readiness,” said Rear Admiral George Wikoff, commander, Carrier Strike Group Five. “I cannot overstate my appreciation for the hard work of our Sailors to protect the health of our force, and to all those who support us and enable our enduring mission.”
The ROM period allowed fleet leadership the ability to monitor the health of the force in a controlled facility, and build a safe environment for Sailors to accomplish assigned missions at sea. While participating in ROM, Sailors used their time constructively by taking online college courses, studying for advancement exams and military qualifications, catching up on hobbies and personal projects, as well as participating in services and activities provided by organizations including Fleet and Family Services, the USO and MWR.
One officer proved that you can take the Sailor out of the aircraft carrier, but you can’t take the aircraft carrier out of the Sailor.
“I cannot get enough of aircraft carriers,” said Lieutenant Matthew Chiong of Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department. “Using my time in ROM, I built a 1:800 scale model of USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).”
While underway, Sailors continue to practice proper mitigation procedures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, to include social distancing, high standards of hygiene and cleanliness, and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
To kick off deployment, Reagan onloaded more than 1,000 tons of ordnance – enough combat power to cause the ship to sit five-inches lower on the waterline – in addition to personnel and aircraft from aviation squadrons within CVW-5. With more than 5,000 crew embarked, and 60-plus aircraft, Reagan is capable of sustaining around-the-clock maritime operations.
“We are committed to the defense agreements with our allies and partner nations,” said Hannifin. “We provide regional security and stability, deter aggression from those who challenge a free and open Indo-Pacific, and maintain warfighting readiness to respond to any contingency.”
While underway, the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group will work alongside allies and partners to strengthen regional capabilities, further develop warfighting concepts, and improve distributed maritime operations that provide layered defense options to protect shared interests. Together, the U.S. and its allies promote peace and prosperity by supporting international norms.
The United States remains committed to protecting the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea, and the ability of all countries to exercise those rights.
The crew and support staff of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group continue to demonstrate that no challenge is beyond reach and that together “it CAN be done.”
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest numbered fleet in the world, and with the help of 35 other maritime-nation allies and partners, the U.S. Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific region for more than 70 years, providing credible, ready forces to help preserve peace and prevent conflict.