Carrier Air Wing 5 flew over the USS Ronald Reagan on Thursday as it transited from the Pacific Ocean area of operations of the 7th Fleet to the Middle East and the 5th Fleet. Photo courtesy of USS Ronald Reagan/Facebook
June 25 (UPI) -- The strike group led by the USS Ronald Reagan arrived in the 5th Fleet area of operations to serve the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan, the Navy said on Friday.
The aircraft carrier, its Carrier Air Wing of aircraft, Commander Task Force 50, the guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh and guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey exited the 7th Fleet to join the 5th Fleet, whose presence encompasses the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Red Sea and portions of the Indian Ocean.
"While in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, the Ronald Reagan CSG will operate and train alongside regional and coalition partners, and provide airpower to protect U.S. and coalition forces as they conduct drawdown operations from Afghanistan," a Navy statement on Friday said.
It is the first time the ship and its Carrier Strike Group entered the 5th Fleet's area of operations since 2012.
They will replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its escorts and personnel, which have provided air cover in the Middle East since April 2021.
The Eisenhower is expected to return to its Norfolk, Va., homeport.
Before traveling westward, the USS Ronald Reagan was deployed from its homeport of Naval Base Yokosuka, Japan, to the South China Sea.
The deployment was meant for conduct maritime security operations last week with "like-minded allies and partners to preserve international order in the South China Sea," including the Japan Maritime Self- Defense Force, the Navy said last week.
A U.S. aircraft carrier has continuously been on duty in the area of the North Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman since May 2019.
The arrival of the USS Ronald Reagan is regarded as a temporary assignment, until the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan planned for July.