USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) departs Yokosuka, Japan, June 4 for a regional patrol. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Peter Burghart)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - The Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and crew began her 2016 patrol after departing Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) June 4.

Ronald Reagan's crew will commence at-sea operations beginning with embarking Carrier Air Wing Five, gaining flight deck certification, loading ordnance and preparing for the Board of Inspection and Survey.

During a press conference, Capt. Buzz Donnelly, commanding officer of Ronald Reagan stated, "I'm extremely proud of the men and women of our crew who have dedicated so much to having us ready to go on our patrol this fine morning.

"Ronald Reagan's return to sea and operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility truly represents and underscores the commitment of the United States to the peace and stability of this region."

Ronald Reagan spent six months at CFAY after completing her 2015 patrol Dec. 3.

"The Japanese people have welcomed the ship and its crew with open arms, and we appreciate all the great hospitality that has been provided here," said Rear Adm. John Alexander, Commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet. "The U.S.-Japan alliance is key to security in the Western Pacific and it's important that we continue to work together and keep that strong alliance."

Ronald Reagan completed sea trials earlier this week in which her crew conducted multiple training and qualification exercises, including engineering and medical drills as well as air, flight deck and hangar bay operations to evaluate the performance of Sailors and their departments. Sea trials were part of a final phase of the ship's selective restricted availability maintenance period, which began Jan. 12.

"A lot of hard work has gone in to get us to this point," said Donnelly. "I appreciate all the hard work you have done to get the ship ready, to get yourselves ready, to get ourselves focused as a team to go out and be combat effective as soon as we take the turn out of the channel, because we are ready to go."

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