by Manila Bulletin | August 7, 2019
The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered American aircraft carrier, docked in Manila Wednesday for a brief port call to highlight the “strong community and military connections” between the Philippines and the United States.
US aircraft carrier ‘USS Ronald Reagan’ sits anchored in Manila Bay, Philippines, Wednesday, August 7, 2019. (EPA-EFE / FRANCIS R. MALASIG / MANILA BULLETIN)
“This visit is a great representation of our strong friendship, partnership, and alliance with the Philippines, as well as a testament to our joint commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” said US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim.
Rear Admiral Karl Thomas, Task Force 70 commander, on the other hand said: “This port call is a direct reflection of the longstanding relationship between the US and the Philippines and underscores our strong support to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”
“Visiting the Philippines is always incredible and I’m glad that the officers and sailors of Carrier Strike Group 5 will have the chance to deepen ties with our critical ally, while enjoying the culture and beauty of this wonderful country,” he added.
Aside from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group includes the Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62).
The presence of the American forces in the Philippines once again highlighted the strengthening of alliance between the two countries amid the heightened tension in the South China Sea.
Prior to its port visit to the Philippines, the USS Ronald Reagan came from a separate port visit in Australia. A military official said they passed through the disputed waters while on their way to Manila.
With this, Thomas believes that any country should be able to have the freedom to operate where the international law allows.
“The beauty of this aircraft carrier is that it provides a lot of security and stability to this region. We just go out there and set an environnment where these current disputes can be solved in a peaceful manner, that’s our goal,” he said.
The USS Ronald Reagan has over 5,000 crew members, around 500 of them are of Filipino descent, according to Electrician Mate Jay Umali, who’s been working at the mammoth ship for three years.
The 25-year-old electrician takes pride in his job of taking care of the ship’s electricity to be able to ensure its operations.
“As an electrician, ako ‘yung assigned sa lahat ng lights and anything that concerns electricity para mag-operate ang barko,” he told the Manila Bulletin.
Meanwhile, Ensign Patrick Bolton has been with the crew for almost one year. Her mother is a Cavite-born Filipina while his father is an American who served in the US Navy.
Bolton, one of the two highest ranked Filipino officers in the USS Ronald Reagan, plans to become an actor in the Philippines once he finishes his duty. He is a graduate of the US Naval Academy.
While in Manila, the US Navy and the Philippine Navy will participate in sporting events, engage in senior leadership exchanges, and take part in community relations and cultural events. The ships will also host tours for students and youth.
According to authorities, the routine port visit is a continuation of the relationship as treaty allies and furthers the friendship, partnership, and alliance between the US and the Philippines.
The US and the Philippines have maintained a Mutual Defense Treaty for over 65 years, demonstrating its joint commitment to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.
Ronald Reagan, Chancellorsville, and Antietam are forward-deployed to the US 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.