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The US Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, leaves its homeport in Japan after nearly 9 years

YOKOSUKA, Japan — The flagship aircraft carrier of a U.S. Navy strike group departed its Japanese home port Thursday, capping nearly nine years of deployment in the Indo-Pacific, where it played a key role in efforts aimed at strengthening defense ties with Japan and other partners in the region. region.

The departure of the USS Ronald Reagan – one of the largest US warships and Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers – comes at a time of growing tension over an increasingly assertive China in Indo -Peaceful.

It will be replaced later this year by the USS George Washington, another Nimitz-class carrier. Japan has accelerated the strengthening of its military capacity and significantly increased its joint naval operations with the United States.

Family members and friends of the crew were on hand to wave the aircraft carrier off Yokosuka Naval Base after its final patrol mission earlier in the day.

Hundreds of sailors stood along the rails while others on the flight deck formed the Japanese proverb “dewa mata” or “see you soon.” The carrier was accompanied by two guided-missile destroyers, the USS Robert Smalls and the USS Howard.

Speaking at the ceremony, US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel assured a “seamless transition.”

“The USS Ronald Reagan and its crew ensured that millions of people across the Indo-Pacific could live their lives free from coercion, aggression and repression,” Emanuel later told reporters.

The USS Ronald Reagan first arrived in Yokosuka in 2015. Previously, during its deployment near the Korean Peninsula, the aircraft carrier contributed to Operation Tomodachi, following the earthquake, tsunami and the 2011 nuclear disaster in northeastern Japan.

The USS Ronald Reagan was the only U.S. aircraft carrier deployed as the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5 of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, to a homeport outside the United States.

During her tenure, she participated in dozens of multilateral exercises and visited more than a dozen foreign ports, including her historic port call in Da Nang, Vietnam, last year.

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Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.

ABC News

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