USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The commander of U.S. 5th Fleet visited the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) in the Gulf of Oman Aug. 16-17, while conducting operations in support of coalition forces on the ground in Afghanistan.
During his visit to Ronald Reagan, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney observed flight operations and spoke candidly with pilots and aircrew flying missions into Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He also spoke to Sailors during an all-hands call in the ship's hangar bay.
"I want to congratulate everyone on a phenomenal achievement," said Gortney, commander, U.S. 5th Fleet. "This carrier and carrier air wing have the highest operational tempo in the Navy. You're setting the standard; you're the critical part of fighting and winning today's wars; you're saving American lives every day, and that's the most important thing you can do."
Ronald Reagan and embarked Carrier Air Wing 14 have safely launched more than 880 sorties since arriving in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility July 6. The ship provides 30 percent of close air support to troops on the ground in Afghanistan, according to Gortney, who told the assembled Sailors that safety was his top priority.
"Our Sailors do an incredible job in making our mission a success," said Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) (AW/SW) Trenton Schmidt, flight deck leading chief petty officer. "The teamwork that all Sailors display on the flight deck and the conditions they do it in are incredible. The flight deck is a very dangerous working environment, but they make it look easy and choreographed. That's a testament to the training we do."
During the all-hands call, Gortney noted that naval forces throughout the region are supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and are conducting maritime security operations.
Gortney also answered questions from Sailors. He fielded questions on liberty, operational tempo and retention.
"I wanted to understand his views on retention in the Navy," said Hull Technician 2nd Class Charles Harvey, whose question was related to the Navy's Perform to Serve program. "His response was clear and to the point, and he certainly addressed my question."
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is on a routine deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility. Operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet are focused on reassuring regional partners of the United States' commitment to regional security, which promotes global economic stability and local prosperity.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.