Quartermaster Seaman Ruben Jeanpierre uses an alidade and sound-powered telephone as USS George Washington (CVN 73) departs Yokosuka, May 18. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Paolo Bayas)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) departed Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, for its patrol of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region as the flagship for the George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GWCSG), May 18.

George Washington served as the U.S. Navy's forward deployed aircraft carrier for seven years and is currently scheduled to conduct a hull swap with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) this summer.

"On behalf of my crew, we are grateful for the friendships we have shared while forward-deployed in Yokosuka," said Capt. Timothy Kuehhas, George Washington's commanding officer. "USS George Washington will now begin a journey, which will end in Virginia, but some of the crew of USS George Washington will transfer to Ronald Reagan during our voyage."

As George Washington departs, Ronald Reagan is scheduled to return as the U.S. Navy's next forward-deployed aircraft carrier.

"As George Washington departs today, rest assured, we will return with Ronald Reagan to maintain our commitment to security within the region," said Rear Adm. John Alexander, commander, GWCSG. "I look forward to continued teamwork with our Japanese allies across a broad range of regional and global issues."

GWCSG returned to sea with the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS Preble (DDG 88) and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, which consists of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27, VFA-102, VFA-115, VFA-195, Electronic Attack Squadron 141, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 115, Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30, Detachment 5, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 77 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12.

GWCSG provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) spell out "goodbye" in Japanese for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) after departing Yokosuka. (U.S. Navy/MCSN Matthew Riggs)