Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ronald Reagan Arrives in Santa Barbara for Port Visit

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) with a crew of over 3,000 Sailors arrived in Santa Barbara, Jan. 11, for a scheduled port visit, offering Sailors a chance to enjoy their liberty by participating in tours, special events and community relations activities.

The Santa Barbara community has strong ties to the crew of Ronald Reagan because of the ties to the Ronald Reagan legacy. The city is located near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Rancho del Cielo, the "Western Whitehouse" used by the 40th president.

Additionally, the Santa Barbara Council of the Navy League of the United States officially adopted the ship and its crew in 2000, before the ship was commissioned. Since that time the Navy League has donated more than $1 million dollars in quality of life improvements for the crew.

Sailors have looked forward to the port visit for several months.

"The excitement has built on a daily basis," said Capt. Terry B. Kraft, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer. "Thanks to the Navy League and incredible community support, this visit promises to be a memorable one for Ronald Reagan. It is a big deal for our Sailors and much appreciated."

There are also historical ties to U.S. Navy ships visiting the city of Santa Barbara.

"This visit also marks the 100 year anniversary of the port stop of the Great White Fleet in Santa Barbara in 1908," said Kraft, noting battleship squadrons visited the city a century ago.

"Sea-power remains as important today as back then - we offer security and hope to our country and allies around the world," added Kraft. "It is doubly exciting that we can share this with a great city like Santa Barbara."

Ronald Reagan Sailors will be participating in several community relations projects while in Santa Barbara. These projects include cleaning up city parks, making improvements to four local schools, and passing out Ronald Reagan ball caps to sick children at a local hospital.

"These special projects give us an opportunity to show the public that Sailors are interested in supporting the local community," said Cmdr. Lee Axtell, Ronald Reagan's command chaplain. "We think our Sailors are the best in the fleet when it comes to supporting the community."

In addition to activities for visiting Sailors, local residents and businesses will be showing their support and appreciation to the men and women serving in the military through a variety of free and discount programs.

Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named for the 40th U.S. president; its motto, "Peace through Strength," was a recurring theme during the Reagan presidency.