US aircraft carrier docks in Singapore for first time since 2019

The USS Ronald Reagan is here for a routine port visit for a few days. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - The USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and one of the largest vessels in the United States Navy, docked at Changi Naval Base on Friday (July 22) - the first time a US aircraft carrier has stopped in Singapore since 2019.

The ship is here for a routine port visit for a few days to replenish supplies and allow those on board to take a break on land.

It is the first time in a month that the ship has docked since its last port call in the US island territory of Guam in June.

During brief remarks to reporters on board the ship, US Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro paid tribute to the strong US-Singapore relationship.

"I'm most grateful to Singapore for the long history of friendly relations that we've had... so that both our nations can prosper economically, as two free independent democratic nations," he said.

The USS Ronald Reagan has been deployed to patrol the Asia-Pacific region as part of the US Seventh Fleet's routine operations in the region since May 21.

A spokesman for the ship declined to reveal how long the USS Ronald Reagan and crew will stay in Singapore, citing operational security reasons.

The Nimitz-class ship, which can carry more than 5,000 personnel and around 100 aircraft, has home-ported in Yokosuka, Japan, since 2015.

Mr Del Toro also said that his purpose for visiting the Republic was twofold: "First, to thank Singapore for hosting rotational US forces like the littoral combat ship, the USS Charleston, but also... to learn about how (Singapore sees) the region and identify the challenges that we can work on together."

Mr Del Toro’s visit to Changi Naval Base is part of his three-day introductory visit to Singapore, which ends on July 23.

According to a statement from Singapore’s Ministry of Defence (Mindef) on Friday, he called on Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen at the Mindef headquarters in Bukit Gombak on Friday afternoon.

Mindef added that both men reaffirmed the excellent and longstanding bilateral defence relationship between Singapore and the US, as well as the close cooperation between both militaries.

Mr Del Toro will depart Singapore for Thailand and the Philippines to discuss how to heighten collaboration between the US and both countries.

He added: "Our security alliance with Singapore and with these two nations is ironclad."

The Nimitz-class ship can carry more than 5,000 personnel and around 100 aircraft. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Mr Del Toro was in Hawaii last week to observe this year's Rim of the Pacific Exercise, which involved 26 nations.

The USS Ronald Reagan's port call comes amid ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, which the US regularly patrols to purportedly maintain freedom of navigation, due to disputed territorial claims from several countries and China.

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