Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, listens as Capt. Christopher Bolt, left, commanding officer of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), and Rear Adm. John Alexander, commander of Battle Force 7th Fleet, explain shipboard operations. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Chris Henry)

WATERS SOUTH OF JAPAN - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Oct. 18 as part of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Fleet Review.

Abe’s arrival to Ronald Reagan marked the first time in history an active Japanese Prime Minister has stepped foot on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier at sea.

“Today’s historic event displays the strong bond and alliance we have with Japan,” said Rear Adm. John Alexander, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet.

Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, welcomed the prime minister and other Japanese dignitaries to include the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr. Taro Aso, Japanese Minister of Defense, Mr. Gen Nakatani, and the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) equivalent of Japan, Chief of Staff, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), Adm. Tomohisa Takei upon their arrival.

“On behalf of all of the Sailors aboard Ronald Reagan, we would like to thank you for your visit and your continued support of our Navy,” said Tyson.

According to Seaman Rachel Jones, from Byers, Texas, a Sailor aboard Ronald Reagan, the interaction between Reagan’s crew and the visiting dignitaries reinforced the importance each nation has on maintaining a strong maritime relationship and keeping peace in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“Prime Minister Abe visiting Ronald Reagan is proof of how close our two nations have become. It’s only been about 70 years since our nations were enemies, but now we are close allies,” said Jones. “It’s also significant that America’s flagship, Ronald Reagan, is participating in the Japanese pass and review.”

According to Capt. Christopher Bolt, Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer, Ronald Reagan participated in the fleet review alongside approximately 50 Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships prior to Abe’s arrival.

“We are very honored to be in formation with the [JMSDF] as they do their pass and review for Prime Minister Abe,” said Bolt. “The ship looks fantastic and all hands aboard Ronald Reagan are now a part of history.”

Abe concluded his visit with closing remarks to senior leadership.

“Thank you for allowing me to visit this magnificent ship,” said Abe. “I look forward to our continued partnership throughout the years.”

Ronald Reagan and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Capt. Christopher Bolt explains flight deck operations to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his party during Sunday's visit to the aircraft carrier. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Ryan McFarlane)