By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Beverly Lesonik, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – The Japan and U.S. Navy Friendship Association (JANAFA) hosted a welcoming reception for the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and her crew, Oct. 5.
Sailors, their counterparts from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and Japanese officials and delegates celebrated Ronald Reagan’s appointment as the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier. The event also commemorated the ship’s contribution during the emergency response after the great east Japan earthquake in March 2011 known as the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief Operation Tomodachi.
“USS Ronald Reagan responded very quickly as a part of the relief mission to the earthquake,” said Yuto Yoshida, mayor of Yokosuka, Japan. “Now she is back and it feels like I am seeing an old friend. To the Sailors who were on USS George Washington (CVN 73), welcome back, and to those who are new here, welcome to Yokosuka. I hope that you will think of Yokosuka as your new home.”
According to Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, the reception showed the unrivaled warmth and generosity displayed by the U.S. Navy’s Japanese counterparts to American Sailors and represented the bond that makes their alliance strong. Aucoin added that together, these forces make up the core capabilities needed by the alliance to meet common strategic objectives.
“Over the past year, the U.S. Navy has assembled the most highly-trained crew and modernized aircraft carrier to represent the U.S. in Japan and this region,” said Capt. Christopher Bolt, Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer. “The partnership between our two nations is important and it is just as important for each of us as individuals to build personal friendships. I look forward to learning more about Yokosuka, Japan and the great people who live here.”
According to Vice Adm. Yasuhiro Shigeoka, commander in chief, Japan Self Defense Fleet, he hopes to re-create the relationship that former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and former Japan Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone had between USS Ronald Reagan and JS Izumo (DDH 183). He added that similar to the former leaders’ nicknames “Ron and Yasu”, he looks forward to calling the sister ships “Ron and Izu”.