The ship underwent a maintenance “overhaul,” according to Commanding Officer Capt. Thom Burke.
“We took it out of the water into the dry dock,” said Burke. “Such that we could pull all the propellers off, all the shafting off, the rudders off and refurbish and get those pieces of equipment basically into as-new condition so that we can make sure the ship will last for it’s 50 year lifespan. This ship is only 10 years into that.”
Capt. Burke said San Diego does not have a dry dock big enough to accommodate the ship, which is why the maintenance took place in Washington.
Now that the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan is back in San Diego, the future of the ship depends on sequestration.
“I heard good things out of Congress today,” said Burke. “I think there’s progress being made with the Department of Defense having the ability to move money around a little bit more effectively than we’ve been able to in the past. That might allow us to keep some of our operational assets more ready, so I’m optimistic.”
The crew was made up of about 2,500 people. Many of the sailors were able to bring their families with them, but approximately 600 left their loved ones in San Diego.
Thursday afternoon hundreds of family and friends waited anxiously for the ship to arrive. Lhen Beltran was among the crowd, waiting to greet her husband.
“I’m not going to say anything,” said Beltran. “I’m just going to give him a hug and a whole lot of kisses.”
When the reunions finally began, Jasmine Morales was ecstatic to see her fiancé, Brandon Walton.
“We just got engaged in February,” said Morales. “So it’s nice to finally have him here to celebrate our engagement together. I’ve missed him so it’s nice.”
The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan’s next deployment is scheduled for 2014, but Capt. Burke said he expects the timeline will change.