YOKOSUKA -- The USS Ronald Reagan arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, Thursday, replacing the USS George Washington. With a crew of 5,000 and up to 90 aircraft on board, the largest vessel in the U.S. Navy will be able to reach hot spots such as the South China Sea or North Korea weeks earlier than if it were based on the U.S. west coast.
The move makes the Ronald Reagan the Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier. It will be the fifth carrier to be based in Japan, following the USS Midway, USS Independence, USS Kitty Hawk and George Washington. "We have had a carrier here continuously for 42 years. The critical importance of the carrier being here, both the substance and the symbolism, cannot be overstated," said Ray Mabus, the U.S. secretary of the Navy, who attended the arrival ceremony.