||SANTA BARBARA HARBOR (June 1, 2014) Ensign Joseph Pfaff, from Detroit, is interviewed by Victoria Sanchez, a news reporter from KEYT channel three, on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan is anchored off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., for a port call. U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Jacob Estes
USS Ronald Reagan departs Santa Barbara
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (NNS) -- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) departed Santa Barbara, Calif., on June 2 after a three-day port visit.
During their visit, Sailors donated their time to local charities, enjoyed shopping and local fare, and toured many attractions. Much of this was made possible due to the hospitality of the Santa Barbara Navy League, an organization that has supported and adopted the ship since its commissioning in 2003.
Sailors were treated to special events planned to celebrate the visit and to bid "America's Flagship" a final farewell before it replaces USS George Washington (CVN 73) in Yokosuka, Japan as the U.S. Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier.
The crew enjoyed tours of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the Reagan Ranch - Rancho del Cielo - and a public barbecue and a friendly softball game against a combined squad of Santa Barbara deputy sheriffs and the Santa Barbara Fire Department.
"I'm happy our junior Sailors were able to see the ranch for themselves," Chief Logistics Specialist Ryan Talob said of his tour of the Reagan Ranch. "I think the visit made everyone a little more proud to be on the ship named after such a great American. That experience was made possible by the wonderful people of Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Navy League - they are gracious hosts."
While nearly 3,000 members of the crew took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the ship's adoptive city, members of the local community were equally happy to see the 1,000 foot warship anchored off its coastline.
"We all feel very close to this ship," Santa Barbara resident Stevie Danley-Considine said while being interviewed by the local media. "Everyone has been looking forward to talking and getting to know the Sailors from Reagan. To everyone in Santa Barbara, this is really the ship's homeport."
While Ronald Reagan Sailors were beneficiaries of Santa Barbara's generous and inviting nature, a small and dedicated corps of individuals made it their mission to thank the city by returning the favor in the form of several community service projects including feeding the homeless, a local beautification endeavor and a Habitat for Humanity project.
"There are those among us who enjoy giving back and enacting change within the community, whether we are in San Diego or in a liberty port," Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Johnrobert Scarbrough said of his participation in the Habitat for Humanity event to build affordable homes for county residents.
"It was very rewarding to interact with the people of Santa Barbara and share our experience with them," added Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Peacock. "We came together as one team to accomplish something that will help the people of Santa Barbara as much as they have helped out our ship during the visit here."
While members of the crew were constantly thanked for their military service over the weekend, they offered their own way to say "thanks" by hosting close to 1,400 guests who rode water taxis to Ronald Reagan's anchorage for an opportunity to tour the ship and meet the Sailors who bring her to life.
"We really do love this ship and all that you do for our country," said John Wilczak, a local business man heavily involved in the ship's visit to Santa Barbara. "Did you see the airplane flying around the city and pulling a sign that says 'SB loves the USS Ronald Reagan' today? That's truly how we feel. Being able to host you and tour the ship today is an honor."
The weekend's events wrapped up with a farewell reception hosted aboard the ship. After Capt. Chris Bolt, Reagan's commanding officer welcomed guests and thanked the city for its hospitality. He turned the podium over to Patricia Westberg, president of Santa Barbara Navy League who expressed the city's fondness for the ship and crew and bid them a fond farewell and steadfast encouragement and assistance.
"Thank you for gracing our shoreline one last time before the Reagan's deployment to Japan next year," Westberg said. "Thanks to you and your families for your continued service to our country as you move to Japan, it's never taken for granted and always appreciated. Even though you'll be a long way across that big pond, please know that the Santa Barbara Navy League will continue to offer you unwavering support -we are all one big Navy family."