USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Forty-three leaders from American business, industry and education had the opportunity to tour the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), April 28 while the ship was operating in the Northern Persian Gulf, as part of the Department of Defense-sponsored Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC).
The JCOC program was started by DoD in 1948 as part of an effort to educate the public about all branches of the military. Throughout the past week, the JCOC participants and their DoD escorts have toured military installations throughout Europe and the Middle East. This is the first year the JCOC has traveled to the Middle East.
"JCOC brings civilians together from throughout America," said Lt. Dave Oney, a U.S. Coast Guard escort officer for the group. "This session is focused on the U.S. Central Command."
The JCOC was aboard Reagan for only a few hours, but that did not keep the guests from participating in a number of events, including an opportunity to view fixed-wing flight operations firsthand from the flight deck.
"My favorite part of the tour was the flight deck," said Tim Morrisey, vice-president, New York Times Media Group. "It was interesting to see how every movement was choreographed perfectly. It was like I was watching a ballet."
According to Rear Adm. Michael H. Miller, commander of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, the JCOC visit was an excellent opportunity for individuals outside the military to see firsthand how the men and women of the armed forces are supporting operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
"We believe this is a worthwhile effort," said Miller. "We are firmly convinced that we are making life better for the people here. People here don't say, 'When are you going away?' They say, 'please don't leave.'"
Capt. Terry B. Kraft, Reagan's commanding officer, said he was fortunate to have the group visit the aircraft carrier while on its maiden deployment.
"It's very important that the American public know what we are doing out here," said Kraft. "We hope the JCOC participants will go back and tell everyone that the U.S. Navy and the crew of Ronald Reagan are making a difference. Our aircraft are supporting the ground troops in Iraq while we conduct maritime security operations here in the Arabian Gulf."
Reagan is currently deployed in the Persian Gulf as part of a routine rotation of U.S. maritime forces in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, as well as conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the region.
MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. MSO deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.
Commissioned in 2003, Reagan is the Navy's newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and departed San Diego Jan. 4 on her maiden deployment.
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.