The USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier based in Japan, has put to sea for a routine patrol in the Western Pacific Ocean. The forward-deployed carrier joins her sister ship the USS Carl Vinson in the region, providing an American military presence in an area wracked by tensions with North Korea.
The start of Reagan's cruise means there are now two Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in the Western Pacific, with the USS Carl Vinson somewhere off the coast of Korea. Together the two carriers have a total of 90 F/A-18C Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighters.
USS Reagan took to sea following an extended maintenance period at United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Reagan's homeport. Yokosuka is one of the most important military ports in the Pacific, home to both the U.S. 7th Fleet and the fleet headquarters of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces, Japan's navy.
Carrier Strike Group Five consists of USS Ronald Reagan and her embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, or CVW-5. Based at Naval Air Station Atsugi, the air wing consists of Strike Fighter Squadron 102 ("Diamondbacks"), Strike Fighter Squadron 27 ("Royal Maces"), Strike Fighter Squadron 115 ("Eagles"), and Strike Fighter Squadron 195 ("Dambusters"). All four squadrons fly the F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet.
Other air units embarked on the Reagan include Electronic Attack Squadron 141 ("Shadowhawks") flying the EAG-18G Growler, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 1165 ("Liberty Bells"), Detachment 5, Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 ("Providers"), and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 ("Golden Falcons") and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 77 ("Saberhawks"), the latter two flying MH-60 S/R Seahawk helicopters.
The carrier is protected by escorts from Destroyer Squadron 15, including the guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh and Aegis destroyers Barry, John S. McCain, McCampbell, and Mustin. Shiloh, a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, has an advanced version of the Aegis Combat System capable of shooting down ballistic missiles, as do the destroyers Barry and McCain. Typically a U.S. Navy nuclear attack submarine shadows the carrier strike group to provide anti-submarine warfare protection.
Source: The Diplomat
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