USS Ronald Reagan Returns to San Diego

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Teary smiles and warm embraces were all around as hundreds of San Diegans woke up early to greet loved ones at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado this morning.  Marines and sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan returned at 8:40 a.m. today after a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East.

Two other U.S. Navy warships, the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville and guided-missile destroyer USS Preble, are aso scheduled to return today to Naval Station San Diego.  Together, the three ships carry 6,000 sailers.

The ships, which departed Feb. 2, were the first to reach the Japanese coast after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake followed by a tsunami struck the east coast of Honshu in March.  The Ronald Reagan shifted operations to providing disaster relief efforts for several weeks.

According to Fox 5 News, the three ships also conducted maritime and theater security operations and visited ports in Japan, Thailand, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Guam and Hawaii over the 219 day deployment.

The Reagan’s commanding officer, Capt. Thom Burke, held a conference call earlier this week in which he discussed the aid mission, the dangers involved and more.

“That was absolutely the biggest challenge of the deployment, trying our level best to help our friends and allies in Japan,” Burke said.

The USS Ronald Reagan passed through a cloud of radiation from a damaged nuclear reactor but no American service member was contaminated.

“Every sailor and Marine on board should feel a great sense of pride and satisfaction,” said Burke. “They worked long hours, in tough conditions and I couldn’t be happier to be bringing everyone home safely.”

Images by Official U.S. Navy Imagery and Rennett Stowe via Flickr.

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