USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) sits along the pier at Port of Brisbane, July 26. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Kenneth Abbate)

CORAL SEA - The Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), departed Brisbane, July 28, after a scheduled five-day port visit following the ship’s participation in exercise Talisman Saber 2017.

TS17, a joint exercise sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defence Force Headquarters Joint Operations Command, is a biennial exercise designed to enhance U.S.-Australian military interoperability through a variety of maritime, land and air operations scenarios.

“Talisman Saber was a fantastic opportunity to train and enhance the collective maritime capabilities of both the Australian and U.S. navies,” said Capt. Buzz Donnelly, Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer. “In addition to our training with Australia, our Sailors also had a tremendous chance to see and experience the culture of our Australian partners during our port visit, which only serves to develop our countries’ bonds, both ashore and at sea.”

While ported in Brisbane, Ronald Reagan’s Command Religious Ministries Department coordinated 10 projects for Sailors to interact with the local community, including volunteer opportunities at Daisy Hill Koala Reserve, Queensland Maritime Museum, Blue Care Nursing Home, and Burringilly Respite Home.

“Community relations projects are an incredible opportunity for us to meet the local community and represent our strike group and the United States as ambassadors,” said Cmdr. David Yang, command chaplain.

Reagan Sailors also experienced Brisbane through seven tours offered by the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Department. Tour packages included trips to see the Australian Zoo, Sunshine Coast beaches, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and a tour through Tamborine Mountain National Park.

“The tours that MWR provides are a good opportunity for us to get out and enjoy some of what the host country has to offer,” said Machinist Mate 2nd Class Jacob Lair, from Sacramento, California. “Most people will never get a chance to travel to Australia and through these tours, you get a terrific glimpse of the people, culture and sites of the country.”

In addition to tours and community relations events, MWR also held a variety of sporting events that allowed Ronald Reagan Sailors to compete against other strike group Sailors and local sporting teams. The list of sports included soccer, basketball, softball and rugby. MWR also hosted a four-man team golf tournament for interested Sailors.

Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.