PHILIPPINE SEA - Sailors aboard the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) maintain the ship’s warfighting readiness and the lethality of its embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, while operating in the Philippine Sea, Aug. 13.
“Whether there is an increase, or an increased perception, of activity by belligerent or coercive nations in the region, the mission of the United States Navy has not changed, nor has our posture or presence here in the Indo-Pacific,” said Rear Adm. Michael Donnelly, commander, Task Force (CTF) 70/Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5. “It all goes to the core of our purpose, and that is aligned with our partners and allies who have like-minded values and understanding of international norms.”
Currently operating in the Philippine Sea in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5, has a crew of 4,900 Sailors.
“As forward deployed Sailors, all of us onboard Ronald Reagan take our motto of ‘Peace through Strength’ to heart,” said Capt. Fred Goldhammer, commanding officer, USS Ronald Reagan. “Everything that we do onboard 'Warship 76' is oriented towards the common understanding that not only must we sustain our combat readiness in order to prevail in conflict, but that we also have a responsibility to maintain such a consistently high level of warfighting prowess that those who would otherwise threaten peace in our region understand without any ambiguity that today is not the day they dare pick a fight."
Sailors working in the ship’s combat direction center (CDC) can quickly coordinate and execute a wide variety of offensive and defensive capabilities.
“I oversee the employment of defense systems, such as [rolling airframe missiles] and [close-in weapons systems] in the event we need to defend the ship,” said Lt. Patrick Ryan, an Air Defense Weapons Coordinator (ADWC) in Ronald Reagan’s CDC, from Guilderland, New York. “We simulate missiles being fired at us and execute our pre-planned responses. We also coordinate with [Carrier Air Wing 5] to execute the air plan, coordinating our offensive and defensive assets.”
Ryan, along with Ronald Reagan and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 can perform their roles during the day or night. They see to it that the safety and security of the aircraft carrier and its operators are air tight.
“Being an ADWC is important,” he said. “In the event of an actual exchange, we expect to be highly targeted, so we and the combat team need to be at the top of our game to carry out the fight.”
Planning and coordinating aircraft operations is another key aspect in maintaining offensive warfighting readiness capabilities. Ronald Reagan’s air department ensures that all squadrons in CVW-5 can carry out their mission smoothly and effectively.
“Monitoring the launch and recovery of aircraft, briefing pilots, making the air plans, and updating alert conditions are just a few of the many things we do here,” said Air Traffic Controlman 1st Class Tremane Dunlap Lowery, from San Diego, carrier air traffic control center (CATCC) leading petty officer. “You don’t have to get ready when you stay ready. What we do on a daily basis prepares us to stay ready for any circumstance, no matter how severe.”
“I’m proud of the role I play here on the ship being in supply,” said Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Randy Wells, from Brooklyn, New York, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195. “Issuing out parts to keep our combat readiness afloat is an important job ... I’m comfortable being out here doing my part.”
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Under Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.