Carrier GW set to return home in first leg of 3-carrier swap

By Meghann Myers, Staff writer

Seven years after she left home for forward deployment in Japan, the carrier George Washington was set to return to U.S. shores Monday.

The carrier GW’s scheduled Monday arrival in San Diego marks the first leg of a three-carrier swap announced in early 2014, which will see GW headed to the east coast for refueling and overhaul while the formerly San Diego-based carrier Ronald Reagan heads to Japan and the former Norfolk carrier Theodore Roosevelt takes its place in San Diego.

GW, fresh off a stint in Australia and New Zealand with international exercise Talisman Sabre 2015, will spend 10 days in San Diego swapping out crew and equipment before heading to the yards in Newport News, Virginia, a Navy release said.

Reagan will then head to its new home in Yokosuka, Japan, following its recent maintenance period.

“We are sending one of our most advanced carriers to join our forward deployed forces in Japan to support the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, head of Naval Air Forces, in the release.

The TR left Norfolk on a 5th Fleet deployment in March, and will redeploy to San Diego in the fall.

Though the carriers are switching home ports, approximately two-thirds of their crews will remain at their current duty stations. The other-third will move with their ship to its new port, the release said.

Reaction Department sailors and a small number of critical personnel, including each ship’s commanding and executive officers, will stay with their ships. Command master chiefs will move with their crews to new homeports, the release.

A select few — 1,407, to be exact — will crew all three ships. Dubbed the “Three Presidents Crew,” they’ll start with Reagan, transfer to GW as it rounds South America to the East Coast, then fly back to San Diego to meet up with the TR.

In May, Reagan Command Master Chief Spike Call unveiled a logo designed by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class David Frederick depicting all three presidents’ likenesses to commemorate their effort.

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