USS RONALD REAGAN, At sea (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) welcomed more than 450 friends, family members and special guests on board for a "Tiger Cruise" as the ship departed Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, April 13 following a five-day port visit.
A total of 465 'Tigers' joined the crew of Ronald Reagan for the Tiger Cruise, the final leg of the deployment as the ship begins the 2,000 mile final trek toward its homeport of San Diego.
Proudly removing their official Ronald Reagan command ball caps and standing at attention, Tigers joined the officers and crew to render honors to the USS Arizona Memorial as the ship pulled out of Naval Station Pearl Harbor.
During the transit back to homeport, the Tigers will eat, sleep and join Ronald Reagan crew members in experiencing Navy life first-hand aboard the Navy's newest aircraft carrier.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Mark Nieto, Ronald Reagan's Tiger Cruise coordinator, the highlights of the Tiger Cruise will be the fueling at sea evolution, air power demonstration, general quarters drill and crew's talent show. Numerous tours of different parts of the ship will also be available to Tigers of all ages.
"The best part is seeing the excitement and enthusiasm from a Tiger when they experience something for the first time," said Nieto.
"Tiger Cruise is an incredible opportunity for family and friends to see first-hand what we do," added Nieto. "It is really hard to relay verbally, in writing or with pictures what we do and see on board Ronald Reagan. There is no better experience than actually being here."
Senior Chief Air Traffic Controller (AW/SW) Renae Morin, the assistant Tiger Cruise coordinator, said the event is also a great opportunity for Sailors to interact with their families and show off the job they do on the ship.
"I think it is not only important for morale, but also for the Sailor's family and friends to see what we do out here so they can get a better understanding and appreciation. They will know what it is like to be underway on our mighty warship," said Morin.
Both Sailors and their Tigers agree that the Tiger Cruise is the opportunity of a lifetime.
"Seeing the jet break the sound barrier was the best part so far," said the 12-year-old guest of Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (AW/SW) Tim Goode. The young San Diego native said this was the first time he has been on board a Navy ship and that he might want to be a naval aviator on his way to becoming an astronaut.
Storekeeper Seaman Recruit Sara McClure from Supply Department, who's mother and father have Navy ties, said she invited her mother, a Navy veteran who had only served on shore duty, to experience life at sea.
According to her mother the highlight of Tiger Cruise so far has been that the Supply Department gave her daughter time off from her food service attendant duties so they could spend time together.
"The best part so far has been flight operations and we're looking forward to the air show," said the older McClure, who worked as a yeoman at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., while on active duty.
Commissioned in July 2003, Ronald Reagan is the ninth and newest Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named for the 40th U.S. president; its motto, "Peace through Strength," was a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency.
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group departed San Diego Jan. 27 on a surge deployment in support of operations in the western Pacific.
For more news from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.