SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) returned to her homeport of San Diego Aug. 8 following participation in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2010, which concluded Aug. 1 with a reception hosted in the aircraft carrier's hangar bays.
More than 1,500 participants, distinguished visitors and special guests celebrated the official end of RIMPAC 2010, which began June 23.
Thirty-two ships, five submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 20,000 personnel participated in RIMPAC, a biennial exercise that originated in 1971.
RIMPAC gave Sailors from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Peru, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the United States the opportunity to work together in a joint environment.
"Working with Sailors from around the Pacific provides the opportunity to learn from many different perspectives and reminds us how similar the challenges we face are," said Australian Capt. Vaughn Rixon, Sea Combat commander. "Being able to walk away from RIMPAC with a better understanding of our region and our partners, and perhaps a better understanding of our own capabilities, is the best thing about being a part of this exercise."
The exercise gave the crew of Ronald Reagan a chance to familiarize themselves with other navies they would not normally be working with and to participate in different ceremonies and activities used to increase the bonds of partnership with the participating countries.
Throughout the exercise, RIMPAC units trained on basic warfighting skills. Reagan conducted a live Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launch, firing at a simulated target.
"It was pretty impressive," said Cmdr. Sean Rando, combat direction center officer. "It was nice to see that our weapons system works as advertised."
The exercise allowed Reagan to test its RAM launcher weapons system for the first time since 2007. It also provided an opportunity for Sailors and Marines to watch as Reagan showed its weapon system in action. Sailors from Weapons department trained for the launch for several weeks prior to the event.
Sailors aboard the Ronald Reagan had many different experiences over the course of RIMPAC. Some may have been minimally affected by the exercise while others worked hand-in-hand with sailors from other countries and were involved in every aspect of the joint operation.
"I think I get the best experience of RIMPAC," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Julie Beduhn, a Sea Combat Command watchstander. "I am able to see and be involved with most of the operations the Ronald Reagan is involved in, and I get to work side-by-side with Sailors from seven different countries while I'm doing it."
The reception aboard Ronald Reagan was a way to celebrate the successful completion of RIMPAC and the renewed partnerships with U.S. allies in the Pacific region.
"Ronald Reagan and Carrier Air Wing 14 team did an outstanding job during RIMPAC 2010," said Ronald Reagan Command Master Chief Mark Rudes. "From in port phase engagements with RIMPAC cup sporting events to socializing out in town, getting the chance to see so many nations in one spot is really a once-in-a lifetime opportunity and the crew truly took advantage of this. Working alongside our foreign partners and bridging communication challenges helped make us more effective as one team instead of 14 separate forces."
Ronald Reagan departed on RIMPAC shortly after completing a six-month maintenance availability pier side at San Diego's Naval Air Station North Island.
Rudes believes RIMPAC was a great way for the ship's crew to get back into a battle rhythm.
"RIMPAC was a tremendous way to get us all back in the operational frame of mind," said Rudes. "Having Carrier Air Wing 14 embark with their four new fighter attack squadrons gave everyone the opportunity to establish working relationships and smooth out any unknowns before we head out on deployment. The training we were exposed to was a key element in how RIMPAC prepared us for future operations."
Sailors also had the chance to visit Hawaii during two port visits where Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) was on hand to cater to the needs of Sailors.
"MWR offered many discounted tours," said Kendra Smith, MWR department head. "We also offered discounted hotels, as well as sporting events and a friendly face to answer any last minute questions."
RIMPAC is the world's largest multinational maritime exercise which allows participating nations to work together to build trust and enhance partnerships needed to improve maritime security. RIMPAC demonstrated a commitment to working with global partners in guarding sea lanes, protecting national interests and ensuring freedom of navigation as a basis for global peace and prosperity.
For more news from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) - Ronald Reagan Strike Group, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.