By Petty Officer 3rd Class James Lee, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – The Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), returned to Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka, Japan, Nov. 21 after completing a scheduled three-month patrol.
During the patrol, Ronald Reagan participated in exercises Valiant Shield, Invincible Spirit and Keen Sword, designed to enhance joint military operations with partner nations throughout the region. The crew also completed its Unit Level
Training Assessment-Sustainment and Maintenance and Material Management Assessment.
“We have successfully completed our 2016 patrol, and I must say we could not have done so without a superb effort from the entire Ronald Reagan and air wing crew and great coordination and support from our partners here in the region,” said Capt. Buzz Donnelly, Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer. “The past few months have been a great opportunity for us to enhance our military readiness and improve our efforts to ensure security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations.”
Ronald Reagan departed FLEACT, Yokosuka, Sept. 3 to complete the final part of the 2016 Indo-Asia-Pacific patrol. The ship’s first major exercise was Valiant Shield 2016, which took place in waters near Guam. Valiant Shield is a biennial field-training exercise that integrates joint training among U.S. forces and tests their ability to operate together.
“A large exercise like this gave us a chance to prove what we are capable of,” Donnelly said. “Valiant Shield brought us together with other U.S. forces and allowed us to hone our skills, so we can be ready to efficiently execute a wide range of operations anywhere in the region at a moment’s notice.”
Next up was Invincible Spirit 2016, a maritime interoperability exercise conducted with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy Oct. 11-15. The exercise was designed to improve U.S.-ROK maritime tactics, techniques and procedures. It consisted of routine, bilateral training, subject-matter expert exchanges, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare drills, communications drills, air-defense exercises, countermine planning and distinguished visitor embarkations.
“We were honored to have another opportunity to work with the Republic of Korea,” Donnelly said. “Increased cooperation between nations throughout the region helps create a safer, more secure and prosperous maritime environment that we all benefit from.”
The final exercise of the patrol was Keen Sword 2017, a bilateral, field-training exercise involving the U.S. military and Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability of the U.S.-Japan alliance. The exercise ran from Oct. 30 to Nov. 11.
“Keen Sword 17 was another excellent opportunity for us to collaborate with our JSDF counterparts,” Donnelly said. “The ability for the U.S. and Japan to integrate our military efforts is essential to the peace and stability of this region, and I believe we effectively demonstrated those capabilities together throughout the exercise.”
Ronald Reagan also qualified for numerous awards throughout the patrol, including the 2016 Secretary of Defense Maintenance Award. The ship’s Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) was named the winner for the large field-level category Oct. 29.
“This is an extremely prestigious award,” said Cmdr. Clayton Massey, head of Ronald Reagan’s Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department. “Every branch of the armed forces submits nominations, so our selection was not just for the Navy, but for the entire Department of Defense. We were selected from the best applicants from each of the service components.
In addition, the ship’s food services division was named finalist for the Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Award, earning the Pacific Fleet finalist spot for the second consecutive year. The award is given annually to units that demonstrate food-service excellence and is the Navy’s highest culinary arts honor.
“If we win, we will be the first carrier stationed in Japan to win the Ney Award, so it’s a real milestone,” said Chief Warrant Officer Brian Ware, the Ronald Reagan food service officer. “It’s an accomplishment for all of my Sailors and for the command as well. It is really an award that can be enjoyed by the whole crew.”
Ronald Reagan also successfully completed the ULTRA-S, the final phase of the Fleet Response Training Cycle Nov. 15, as well as the 3MA Nov. 17.
Donnelly showed appreciation for the crew’s accomplishments during the patrol.
“I would like to thank the Sailors aboard Ronald Reagan for their outstanding work this year,” he said. “From the numerous material and crew-readiness inspections, to the military operations with our allies in the western Pacific, they completed the job with the utmost professionalism and efficiency, and I hope now they can enjoy some much-deserved time for themselves and their families.”