7th Fleet commander visits USS Ronald Reagan

01 June 2020

From MC2 Cameron C. Edy, USS Ronald Reagan

Vice Adm. Bill Merz toured departmental spaces and discussed the critical nature of the maritime mission as the aircraft carrier operated in the Philippine Sea.
PHILIPPINE SEA (May 30, 2020) Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. William R. Merz conducts pre-flight checks on an F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102 on the flight deck of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during a scheduled visit. During the visit, Merz talked with Sailors about the health of the force and observed the ship’s operational readiness. Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the United States, as well as the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Samantha Jetzer)
Vice Adm. William R. Merz conducts pre-flight checks on an F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Samantha Jetzer)
PHILIPPINE SEA (May 30, 2020) Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. William R. Merz conducts pre-flight checks on an F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102 on the flight deck of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during a scheduled visit. During the visit, Merz talked with Sailors about the health of the force and observed the ship’s operational readiness. Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the United States, as well as the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Samantha Jetzer)
200530-N-ML137-1057
Vice Adm. William R. Merz conducts pre-flight checks on an F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Samantha Jetzer)
Photo By: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Samantha Jetzer
VIRIN: 200530-N-ML137-1057

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.

PHILIPPINE SEA (May 30, 2020) Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. William R. Merz speaks with the crew of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) on the ship’s 1MC during a scheduled visit. During the visit, Merz talked with Sailors about the health of the force and observed the ship’s operational readiness. Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the United States, as well as the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
200530-N-ZQ950-1104 Vice Adm. William R. Merz speaks with the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) crew on the ship’s 1MC. (U.S. Navy/ABH3 Kimani Wint)
SLIDESHOW | 3 images | 200530-N-ZQ950-1104 Vice Adm. William R. Merz speaks with the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) crew on the ship’s 1MC. (U.S. Navy/ABH3 Kimani Wint)
PHILIPPINE SEA (May 30, 2020) Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. William R. Merz speaks with Aviation Mechanic Airman Michael Gray from Las Vegas, assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 in the hangar bay of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). During the visit, Merz talked with Sailors about the health of the force and observed the ship’s operational readiness. Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the United States, as well as the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
200530-N-ZQ950-1038 Vice Adm. William R. Merz speaks with Aviation Mechanic Airman Michael Gray, assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141, in the hangar bay of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy/ABH3 Kimani Wint)
SLIDESHOW | 3 images | 200530-N-ZQ950-1038 Vice Adm. William R. Merz speaks with Aviation Mechanic Airman Michael Gray, assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141, in the hangar bay of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy/ABH3 Kimani Wint)
PHILIPPINE SEA (May 30, 2020) Lt. Bryan Dietel, right, assists Vice Adm. William R. Merz, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, with donning flight gear prior to a flight on an F/A-18F Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, on the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Merz visited the officers and crew of Ronald Reagan and Carrier Strike Group 5 to discuss the critical nature of the maritime mission in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the United States, as well as the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific Region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erica Bechard)
200530-N-DL524-1017 Lt. Bryan Dietel, right, assists Vice Adm. William R. Merz with donning flight gear prior to a flight on an F/A-18F Super Hornet (U.S. Navy/MC3 Erica Bechard)
SLIDESHOW | 3 images | 200530-N-DL524-1017 Lt. Bryan Dietel, right, assists Vice Adm. William R. Merz with donning flight gear prior to a flight on an F/A-18F Super Hornet (U.S. Navy/MC3 Erica Bechard)

“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.

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