USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) became the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to transit the Strait of Magellan, June 20 and 21, according to the ship's commanding officer, Capt. James Symonds.
With its journey through the South American straits complete, Ronald Reagan entered the Pacific Ocean for the first time. The ship is on its way to its new homeport in San Diego.
"The Straits of Magellan transit went very well," said Master Chief Quartermaster (SW) Lawrence Fahey. "It's not a navigationally difficult transit. It's just a long transit."
Through the long transit, the ship's quartermasters pulled together to navigate the ship through the straits.
"Everybody did extremely well rotating in, relieving each other and keeping each other on their toes," said Fahey. "We had augmentees from (USS) Nimitz (CVN 68) and (USS) Eisenhower (CVN 69). They folded in well with my gang who has been here for a while."
The fair weather forecast was one of the deciding factors for taking Ronald Reagan through the Straits of Magellan.
"If we went around, through the Drake Passage, then we would have to worry about weather fronts and storm conditions," said Fahey. "Looking at the weather picture during our transit, all the weather was to the south of us in the Drake Passage. We had very good weather conditions through the strait."
There were concerns that the waterway might be too narrow for a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
"The Norfolk Thimble Shoals channel is 1,000 feet wide," said Fahey. "The narrowest part of the straits was 1,500 feet, so it was wider than we were used to in Norfolk."
Spectacular views of snow-capped mountains flanked the aircraft carrier while it navigated through the waterway.
"It's beautiful," said Lt. Cmdr. Kris Dellapina, staff judge advocate for Commander Cruiser Destroyer Group 1, while looking out over the mountains from the ship's flight deck. "It's a once-in-a lifetime opportunity. We're surrounded by beautiful white-capped mountaintops, there's a brisk chill in the air and it just couldn't be more beautiful."
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