Ronald Reagan Strike Group WESTPAC 06 Deployment
CVN 76 Ronald Reagan
"Gipper" / "Peace Through Strength"
The crew of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) completed its sustainment exercise (SUSTAINEX) and returned to Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., 26 March 2009. The Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carrier completed SUSTAINEX along with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14, the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), the guided-missile destroyers USS Howard (DDG 83) and USS Gridley (DDG 101) and the guided-missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43). SUSTAINEX is the last coordinated exercise involving the ships of Carrier Strike Group 7 prior to its upcoming deployment later in 2009.
Even though they had been apart for a few months, it didn't take long for the Ronald Reagan-Air Wing 14 team to start humming like a well-oiled machine. Ronald Reagan conducted more than 1,000 launch and recoveries of aircraft, all while preparing hundreds of new Sailors for their first deployment aboard. This underway has prepared them a great deal. With the turnover since last deployment, there were a lot of new Sailors. It gave them a little bit of a vision of what they're going to be facing in the months to come.
SUSTAINEX put the ships together for several coordinated evolutions, including maritime security operations (MSO) and testing air defense and anti-submarine warfare proficiencies. The exercise also proved very valuable from a command-and-control standpoint. For the flagship, one key qualification was achieved. According to Capt. Thomas Lalor, Commander, CVW-14, USS Ronald Reagan and CVW-14 have requalified as blue-water capable, meaning the ship can now sail into deep waters and conduct flight operations.
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