The nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft Ronald Reagan departed Yokosuka base (Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture) on April 5 and sailed through the Uraga Strait at the entrance of Tokyo Bay.
The Ronald Reagan had originally been scheduled to sail for the Indo-Pacific this spring. But the spread of the new coronavirus and the resulting stop-movement order delayed the departure of the ship, which still carries nuclear waste off loaded during regular maintenance. In addition, at least 16 of its crew members have been infected with the new coronavirus, further delaying its departure as it required some time to perform PCR tests and implement anti-infection measures.
This time, the carrier’s aircraft didn’t conduct Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP), which is usually done before the ship leaves Yokosuka. It is apparent that the decision to dispatch the Ronald Reagan was made in order to deter China, which is stepping up operations in the region by taking advantage of the “power vacuum” created by the withdrawal of another nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt. The Theodore Roosevelt had been actively operating in the South China Sea and elsewhere, but it recently suffered a severe surge in virus infections among its crew members and lost its operational capability.
The Ronald Reagan is expected to return to Yokosuka in about 5 or 6 days, however, as the flattop has not completed preparations for formal deployment.