PHILIPPINE SEA - Vice Adm. Bill Merz, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, visited USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), May 30.
While aboard, Merz met with the officers and crew of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5, toured departmental spaces, and discussed the critical nature of the maritime mission in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. After speaking with the chief’s mess and junior officers, Merz toured multiple areas throughout the ship.
Capt. Pat Hannifin, USS Ronald Reagan commanding officer, noted, “It was great for Vice Adm. Merz to see the toughness and lethality of the Reagan team first hand. Reagan Sailors are ready now; zero caveats.”
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handler) 3rd Class Kimani Wint joined Merz for a portion of the tour, and explained that his short time with the admiral made a lasting impression.
“He greeted many of the Sailors during the tour, talking to us about our warfighting efforts and assured us that the fleet is adapting well to the “new normal,” said Wint. “He said Reagan is the tip of the spear out here, we’re leading the charge against COVID-19, and we’re making sure anything that needs to be done is done. We’re setting the example for the rest of the fleet.”
Merz experienced the lethality of the carrier’s air power, flying in an F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102.
“It was an honor and a privilege to give Vice Adm. Merz a close-up look at the aviation assets onboard Ronald Reagan,” said Cmdr. Harry Evans, commanding officer of VFA 102. “It gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our operational readiness and warfighting capabilities.”
Merz concluded his tour in the pilot house, and from the ship’s announcement system, he thanked the crew and emphasized the importance of Ronald Reagan’s operations-at-sea in a dynamic and changing environment.
“When challenged, it may seem like an attractive option to break from our operation and take our pack off, because some would think we’re not at war,” said Merz. “But that would be a mistake because we’re certainly not at peace either. The reason we’re not at war is because of you, and because of what we do as a fleet, day in and day out.”
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-Pacific region.