Sunday, May 20 , 2018, 11:55 pm | Fair 58º


USS Ronald Reagan Sets Sail with Family and Friends, Too

Santa Barbara Navy League joins aircraft carrier's crew for eight-hour cruise, and an air display, too.



The thriving community aboard the USS Ronald Reagan almost doubled in size recently as nearly 3,000 visitors joined the crew for a Friends and Family Day Cruise aboard the aircraft carrier.

The day before the eight-hour cruise out of Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, 76 members of the Santa Barbara Navy League met for an evening reception. The next morning, they boarded the League’s "adopted" ship for breakfast, tours, an air show, lunch and the opportunity to meet and salute many of the more than 4,000 sailors aboard the sprawling carrier, CVN76.

“The purpose of the ‘Friends and Family Day Cruise’ is just that, to get our friends and family on board and to show them what we do when we get under way,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Anderson, who coordinated the event.

"Our families don’t get the opportunity very often to see what we do when we take the ship out to sea,” he added. "And it’s a great opportunity for them to see us in our workplace.”

Inside the ship’s three hangar bays, the visitors were treated to video games, jousting, magicians and musicians — all provided by the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation team.{mosimage}

The Family Day visitors were even allowed to mill about the ship’s flight deck and navigational bridge of the Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier. The highlight of the day was an air power demonstration by Carrier Air Wing 14. Static displays of ordnance and damage control equipment in the hangar bay also drew large crowds.

Christy Eschenbacher, MWR director, said it took almost three months to pull off the day’s event.

"Every company has a family picnic," Eschenbacher said. "This is an opportunity for families to meet the crew, see how they live, and say, ‘This is all right.’ "

The USS Ronald Reagan, named for the late 40th president, was commissioned in July 2003. Towering 20 stories above the waterline, it is 1,092 feet long — nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall.

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