May 19 (UPI) -- The strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan departed Japan for deployment in the Indo-Pacific region, the Navy announced on Wednesday.
The vessel, the Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, departed its home port of Naval Base Yokosuka on Wednesday with its escorts and Carrier Air Wing 5.
The nine squadrons of the air wing fly and maintain F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler fighter planes, E-2D Hawkeye early warning aircraft, C-2A Greyhound cargo planes and MH-60R/S Sea Hawk helicopters.
The Navy did not mention the destination in the announcement, saying only that the strike group is "expected to work with allies and partners, promote adherence to a rules-based international order, as well as maintain presence and flexibility to meet the needs of the U.S. Department of Defense."
In October 2020, the strike group returned to the South China Sea for the third time in its underway period, after time spent in the Indian Ocean.
"While in the South China Sea, the strike group is conducting maritime security operations, which include flight operations with fixed and rotary wing aircraft, maritime strike exercises, and coordinated tactical training between surface and air units," a U.S. 7th Fleet statement said at the time.
In recent months, the United States and allied countries have continued to send ships to the contested region to signal that the waters should remain international.