The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and its carrier strike group are now operating in the 5th Fleet, a first for the aircraft carrier since 2012.
The Navy said the Reagan aircraft carrier strike group “will operate and train alongside regional and coalition partners” and provide air power to assist U.S. and coalition forces while the United States United withdraws troops from Afghanistan.
“The flexible presence of Ronald Reagan is a key element in helping to assure our regional partners that the United States remains committed to securing the freedom of the seas,” said Captain Fred Goldhammer, commander of Ronald Reagan, in a statement from Navy press. “The crew aboard Ronald Reagan seek to preserve ‘the peace by force’ and stand ready to answer the call.”
The Wall Street Journal first reported in May that the Reagan was about to visit the CENTCOM area of operations to assist with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and that the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower would be leaving. the area in July to return to Norfolk, Va.
The report says the carrier is unable to operate safely if it exceeds the July deadline, given that the carrier was deployed in 2020 and then deployed again in February 2021, according to unnamed defense officials.
Earlier this month, the Reagan and its carrier strike group first visited the South China Sea during its deployment in 2021 to conduct maritime security operations, air operations, maritime strike exercises and a coordinated tactical training between surface and air units.
“Our commitment to regional stability strengthens those with whom we sail and discourages anyone seeking to disrupt international standards, no matter where we deploy in the world,” said Rear Admiral Will Pennington, commander of Task Force 50 and Carrier Strike Group 5, said in a Navy press release.
The Reagan Carrier Strike Group includes the guided missile cruiser Shiloh, the guided missile destroyer Halsey, as well as the Carrier Air Wing 5 and the onboard staffs of Task Force 70 and Destroyer Squadron 15.