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Ronald Reagan Strike Group
Ronald Reagan Precommissioning Unit
CVN 76 Ronald Reagan
"Gipper" / "Peace Through Strength"

The US Navy announced in January 2014 that it would deploy the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to Japan in the summer of 2015 to replace USS George Washington. USS Ronald Reagan, commissioned in 2003, will be moved from San Diego to the Yokosuka Naval Base as part of the Pentagon's efforts to bolster combat readiness in the Pacific region where tensions have flared over a tiny Japanese-controlled island chain also claimed by China. The George Washington carrier moved to Norfolk, Virginia to complete a multi-year nuclear refueling and overhaul. Most of the crew of the George Washington transfered over to USS Reagan, so there will be no mass movement of families overseas.

In late 2015 USS George Washington (CVN-73) was part of a historic three-carrier “hull swap” as the Navy shifted carrier homeports to accommodate the GW‘s refueling and complex overhaul [RCOH] at Newport News. The Navy maintained CVN capability in Japan with the arrival of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) at Yokosuka, and sustained carrier support on the West Coast when USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) made San Diego her new homeport. A mid-August 2015 “crew swap,” enabled two-thirds of the Yokosuka-based crew to crossover to the Reagan and remain in Japan.

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is homeported in San Diego as a member of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. It began transiting to San Diego on 27 May 2004. The cruise took roughly two months and involved sailing around Cape Horn, before arriving at North Island Naval Air Station on July 23.

Construction Phase

RONALD REAGAN was built by Northrop Grumman Newport News in Newport News, Virginia, the only company in the United States with the unique ability to build nuclear powered aircraft carriers. RONALD REAGAN is the ninth Nimitz class aircraft carrier. Being nuclear powered, it can operate for 20 years without refueling and is designed to meet the needs of the Navy and the country for 50 years.

Ronald Reagan towers 20 stories above the waterline, displaces approximately 95,000 tons of water, has a flight deck width of 252 feet, and at 1,092 feet long, is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall. This floating airfield has a flight deck that covers 4.5 acres. Reagan's two nuclear reactors are capable of more than 20 years of continuous service without refueling, providing virtually unlimited range and endurance, and a top speed in excess of 30 knots.

The ship will support a wide variety of aircraft, including the F/A-18 Hornet and F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighters, the F-14 Tomcat fighter, the E-2 Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft, the C-2 Greyhound logistics aircraft, the S-3 Viking anti-submarine aircraft, the EA-6 Prowler electronic warfare aircraft and the multi-role SH-60 and MH-60 helicopters.

Construction of the ninth Nimitz class ship took place at Northrop Grumman Newport News,Va., starting with the ship's keel laying Feb. 12, 1998, and christening Mar. 4, 2001.

Sailors from Precommissioning Unit (PCU) Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) joined members of the United States Navy League, Santa Barbara and Hampton Roads councils, to mark the one-year countdown to the commissioning of Ronald Reagan with a gala celebration on May 3, 2002.

With Precommissioning Unit (PCU) Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) nearly 60 percent complete as of May 2002, it was not scheduled to get underway for at least another year, which makes it difficult for its Sailors to get the qualifications they need. That's where another carrier came in. The air department aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) helped keep PCU Ronald Reagan Sailors sharp while their ship is being completed in Newport News, Va. Thirty Sailors from PCU Reagan trained on board Abraham Lincoln during Northern Edge and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX).

In September 2002, PCU Ronald Reagan moved a little closer to commissioning with the testing of the flight deck's catapult one. The tests ran included the launching of "dummy loads," to certify the ship's ability to successfully launch aircraft. There are four catapults on the aircraft carrier and this certification is an essential part of the process necessary to turn CVN 76 into a United States Ship.

This followed the successful testing of catapult two in August 2002. Sailors tested the catapults by launching orange sleds into the James River, but their efforts will help ensure that one day this critical part of the aircraft carrier will safely launch aircraft into the skies practically anywhere in the world. The sleds used in the testing can weigh more than 90,000 pounds. The sled is hooked up to the catapult by the Sailors the same way an actual jet would be, and it is 'launched' off the flight deck into the James River where it is retrieved and returned to the flight deck for additional tests.

The Reagan was scheduled for its first sea trials in February 2003, when the shipyard was to turn the ship over to the Navy.

Numerous delays began to impact on the construction of the Reagan in early 2003. Numerous weather delays prevented work from being completed in the flight deck and on the integrated communications system. Furthermore, a fire in late February caused by a faulty circuit breaker caused the Navy and the shipyard to postpone the delivery of the Reagan and her commissioning. Nearly 600 other circuit breakers were retested to insure safety, but it was discovered that nearly 20 percent of those tested were faulty.

In May 2003 the crew of PCU Ronald Reagan passed Phase II Crew Certification. The purpose of crew certification is to determine the ability of the crew to evaluate its own training and its competency to train to Type Commander objectives. Once a crew successfully completes all three phases of crew certification, the Type Commander approves the ship to move on to the next hurdle and enables the crew to take the ship safely to sea -- fast cruise.

The Navy accepted delivery of the newest aircraft carrier, PCU Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), June 20, 2003.

At one point scheduled to be commissioned in May 2003, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan was commissioned on July 12, 2003, during an 11 am ceremony at Norfolk Naval Station, VA. Vice President Richard Cheney delivered the ceremony's principal address while Nancy Reagan, wife of the ship's namesake, served as the ship's sponsor.

Reagan received its Flight Deck Certification (FDC) on Aug. 14, 2003. Part way through the certification, an airman on watch noticed that part of the arresting gear wasn't working properly. Aviation Boatswain's Mate Airman (Equipment) Jorge Linarez discovered excessive smoke and metal shavings coming from the port side fairlead sheave. He alerted his supervisor and called "foul deck" to prevent any further landings while the problems were researched. An investigation indicated that the fairlead sheave assembly was not turning properly. Following an early return to Norfolk, all 58 sheaves aboard were disassembled, the seals were removed and lubricated and then reassembled - a job that takes about four hours a sheave. The ship was back at sea less than two days later to continue the Flight Deck Certification process.

Beginning in late 2003 the Reagan underwent a five-month post shakedown availability (PSA) that ended in May 2004. Ronald Reagan re-delivered to the Navy on May 2, 2004 marking the end of a five-month Post Shakedown Availability/Selected Restricted Availability (PSA/SRA) at Northrop Grumman, Newport News (NGNN). The re-delivery actually took place while the aircraft carrier was at sea off the Virginia coast, following the successful completion of 2 days of sea trials. The PSA/SRA was a tremendous success for both NGNN and the Navy as many important mission and quality of life upgrades were accomplished on time and under budget.

As the Naval Supervising Activity, SUPSHIP Newport News supervised approximately $53M of work completed by NGNN and coordinated approximately 200 Alteration Installation Team jobs during the availability. Major work items completed during the PSA/SRA included the addition of a 1,300-square-foot gymnasium, expanded crew laundry facilities, mast antenna modifications to optimize performance, and upgrades to accommodate the Navy's newest tactical jet fighter; the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.

Less than two weeks after re-delivery, Ronald Reagan successfully completed Flight Deck Certification. The certification is a significant accomplishment and demonstrates that the arresting gears, catapults and other flight deck equipment are working properly, as well as the crew's proficiency to operate the equipment.

In early May 2004 the Reagan got underway for its second set of flight deck certifications. This was the ship's first underway since its maiden port visit to Ft. Lauderdale, FL, in November 2003. Seven squadrons were on board to assist with the certification. The certifications began on May 5 and ended on May 8. On May 10, an F-14 Tomcat from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8's Fighter Squadron (VF) 213 Black Lions launched from the Reagan in what was the final Tomcat to leave the deck of the ship. Ronald Reagan will be supporting West Coast squadrons, which do not include the F-14 Tomcat.

Ship's Seal

The design of the USS RONALD REAGAN's seal was created entirely by her plankowner crew with historical assistance provided by staff members at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation in Simi Valley, California. Every aspect of the seal has relevance to the President, who, as Mr. Lou Cannon states, "dreamt big dreams and gave back to the world the America he had inside of him."

The red border rings the ship's seal much like the distinctive red rim defines the White House china designed for, and used by, the President and First Lady during their White House years.

Four gold stars represent his 40th presidency and President Reagan's Four Pillars of Freedom - the timeless principles he championed: preserving individual liberty; promoting economic opportunity; advancing global democracy around the world; and instilling national pride. These four pillars guided the President throughout his years of public life and form the core of his lasting legacy.

"Peace Through Strength," was a recurring theme of the President's life in public service. America won The Cold War on this doctrine. The President spoke of its significance in his Radio Address to the Nation on September 24, 1988 when he said: "One thing is certain. if we're to continue to advance world peace and human freedom, America must remain strong. if we have learned anything these last eight years, it's that peace through strength works."

The aircraft carrier, cutting a powerful swath through the sea, is positioned by the west coast representing his two terms as Governor of California and the ship's homeport in the Pacific Fleet. The three aircraft with their patriotic contrails symbolize the three major military operations the President directed during his tenure: Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada/1983); Operation El Dorado Canyon (Libya/1986); and Operation Praying Mantis (Iran/1988). Aircraft carriers played a significant role in these operations.

The view of the globe signifies the President's vision of global democracy and at the center is the United States representing our national pride. "We meant to change a nation, and instead we changed a world."

Colors of red, white and blue dominate the seal reflecting the American flag and the President's love of our flag and our country. President Reagan's fondest hope was for all Americans to "love your country, not for her power or wealth, but for her selflessness and her idealism." The colors signify Americans' "birthright to dream great dreams in this sweet and blessed land, truly the greatest, freest, strongest nation on Earth"

Ship's Battle Flag

During special ship evolutions a battle flag is flown from the mast of U.S. Navy Ships. The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) battle flag continues this tradition with a design created exclusively by her plankowner crew to honor our namesake.

Like the ship's seal, each aspect of the battle flag has relevance to President Reagan.

President Reagan's personal military experience began in 1935 when he enlisted as a private in Troop B, 322nd Cavalry - the reason for the letter B and the numbers 322. In April of 1937 he earned a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Reserve Corps of Cavalry. Later that year, Ronald Reagan starred in the motion picture, "Sergeant Murphy", a Hollywood movie made in part by the 11th Cavalry Regiment. The red over white background is reminiscent of the 11th Cavalry's original guidon (or flag) and later, their unit's patch. The crossed sabers reflect those found on the cover or cap of a Cavalry officer as early as the 1800s.

During World War II, Lt. Reagan interrupted his acting career to join active-duty service. In 1942, he transferred to the Army Air Corps assigned to the 1st Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, Calif. In support of the war effort, Lt. Reagan's military units produced 400 military training films, and he was promoted to Captain. On Apr. 1, 1953 his military career ended until Jan. 20, 1981 when he was sworn in as Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The number 76 refers to the hull number of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, was born February 6th, 1911 in rural Tampico, Illinois. The Reagan family consisted of his father, John Edward ("Jack"), his mother, Nelle Wilson and Ronald's older brother Neil. The Reagan family lived in several small Illinois towns before settling in Dixon, the place Ronald Reagan considers his hometown.

He graduated from Dixon High School in 1928 and went on to attend Eureka College, a small liberal arts institution near Peoria, Illinois. He majored in economics and sociology, graduating in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression. His school years seemed to be a model for his future, as he participated in various sports, starred in school plays and served as student body president in both high school and college.

Although the unemployment rate in the country stood at 25%, Ronald Reagan managed to land a job as sportscaster at WOC Radio in Davenport, Iowa. WOC later consolidated with WHO in Des Moines, and "Dutch" (a childhood nickname because of his "Dutch boy" haircut) gained national media exposure recreating Chicago Cubs baseball games from the studio.

In 1937, Ronald Reagan enlisted in the Army Reserve as a Private, but was soon promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps of the Cavalry. That same year, one of his friends arranged for him to take a screen test at Warner Brother's studios. He was hired on the spot, and suddenly he was a Hollywood actor. He made more than 50 films, normally playing the hero, including the part of legendary Notre Dame halfback George Gipp in 1940's "Knute Rockne, All American." "Dutch" was later known by the nickname "the Gipper."

In 1938, while making the film "Brother Rat," Reagan fell in love with fellow Warner Bros. star Jane Wyman. The couple married in 1940 and Maureen Reagan was born January 4th, 1941. They later adopted a son, Michael in 1945. Their marriage, however, ended in divorce in 1948.

In 1942, Lieutenant Reagan was called to active duty by the Army Air Force. Capitalizing on his film experience, Lt. Reagan was assigned to 1st Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, California where he assisted in the production of over 400 training films. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1943 and discharged on December 9th, 1945, allowing him to resume his acting career.

Ronald Reagan became more involved in the political scene by supporting Harry Truman for president in 1948 and Helen Gahagan Douglas for the Senate in 1950. In 1949, Ronald Reagan met actress Nancy Davis. Sparks flew between the couple and on March 4th, 1952, they were married. That same year, Reagan campaigned as a Democrat for Eisenhower.

Reagan's second marriage proved more lasting than his first. Nancy devoted herself to supporting her husband's career and raising their two children, Ron and Patti.

In 1964, Reagan delivered a rousing speech, calling up romantic visions of an America of a bygone era ("We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth.."), on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Although Goldwater lost the election, Ronald Reagan, the handsome, articulate Hollywood actor was now in the political spotlight.

Backed by several wealthy businessmen in Southern California, Reagan won a landslide victory over Democratic incumbent Edmund Brown during the 1966 race for California Governor. He began his highly successful eight years as California's governor January 3, 1967.

Reagan made unsuccessful bids for president in 1968 and 1976, losing the GOP party nomination in both cases. Proving the adage that "third times a charm", he won the Republican party's nomination in 1980. He went on to win the Presidency in a landslide victory in 1980. He won his re-election bid in 1984.

Ronald Wilson Reagan passed away on June 5, 2004 in Bel-Air, CA.

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Page last modified: 08-03-2016 19:13:46 ZULU