ABOARD USS RONALD REAGAN (NNS) -- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 concluded military operations as part of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 7 in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations (AOO) May 29.
The nearly 6,000 Sailors assigned to the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group supported operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, as well as conducted 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.
Ronald Reagan and CVW-14 launched more than 6,100 sorties, totaling more than 19,600 flight hours, since entering the 5th Fleet AOO. Of those, more than 2,940 sorties and 14,200 flight hours have been in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since Ronald Reagan relieved USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in February.
"The Ronald Reagan Strike Group has made a significant, positive contribution to military operations in the region," said Rear Adm. Michael H. Miller, commander, CSG-7.
"We've spent the past several months supporting the troops on the ground in Iraq, as well as conducting maritime security operations throughout the Arabian Gulf. With the speed, agility and persistence of this modern carrier strike group, we made a difference in helping to deter terrorist organizations and maintain the stability in the region," he said. "We proved that President Reagan's motto 'Peace through Strength' is as applicable today as it was during his administration."
Capt. Terry B. Kraft, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer, added, "To succeed in combat operations on our very first deployment is a testament to this outstanding crew and air wing. Our performance here validates months of training and focus on our mission."
According to Capt. Craig B. Williams, commander, CVW-14, the embarked air wing maintained an intense flight schedule the entire time the carrier strike group was operating in the 5th Fleet AOO.
"The air wing, comprised of some of the most advanced aircraft in the world, was a key player in supporting the coalition ground forces and deterring aggression from the insurgency inside Iraq," said Williams. "Our main focus on each and every combat mission was to provide critical support to the troops on the ground."
While in the region, Ronald Reagan made three separate port calls to the United Arab Emirates. During the port visits, the crew experienced the local culture, purchased souvenirs, and served as ambassadors for the United States and the Navy.
Additionally, Ronald Reagan hosted a number of distinguished visitors, including two embarks by Vice Adm. Patrick Walsh, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, and commander, Combined Maritime Forces; and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/AW) Terry B. Scott.
Military and civilian leaders from various countries in the region, including coalition military leaders, visited Ronald Reagan throughout their time in the 5th Fleet AOO. The ship hosted 43 leaders from American business, industry and education institutions April 28, as part of the Department of Defense-sponsored Joint Civilian Orientation Course (JCOC).
"Ronald Reagan Sailors take a lot of pride in their ship," said Ronald Reagan Command Master Chief CMDCM (AW/SW) James DeLozier. "Each and every time we have visitors here, I hear nothing but compliments about how well the ship looks, and how the Sailors are more than eager to help whenever they can."
While operating in the 5th Fleet AOO, Ronald Reagan Sailors also set a record for aircraft carriers by scoring 98.76 percent on the Maintenance and Material Management (3M) inspection.
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is comprised of CVW-14, DESRON-7, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), the guided-missile destroyers USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USS Decatur (DDG 73), the fast combat support ship USS Rainier (T-AOE 7), and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit 11, Det. 15.
The squadrons of CVW-14 include the "Redcocks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22, the "Fist of the Fleet" of VFA-25, the "Stingers" of VFA-113, the "Eagles" of VFA-115, the "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 139, the "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4.
Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet's area of responsibility encompasses about 7.5 million square miles and includes the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean. This expanse, comprised of 25 countries, includes three critical chokepoints at the Suez Canal, the Straits of Hormuz, and the Straits of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.
Commissioned in 2003, Ronald 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 Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.