The USS Ronald Reagan, one of the United States’ 10 nuclear powered Nimitz Class aircraft carriers, successfully completed sea trials last week after a long in-port maintenance period, and departed its home port in Yokosuka naval base in Japan to resume scheduled operations in the Asia-Pacific Region on Tuesday.

The carrier was originally scheduled to return to full operations on May 15th, but was delayed by a day by an unnamed technical issue that was reportedly resolved aboard the vessel.

“While in port Yokosuka and conducting routine pre-underway checks, a material issue was identified that requires repair,” a May 15 U.S. Navy statement said. “There is no impact to the safety of the aircraft carrier.”

The Ronald Reagan and accompanying ships within its carrier strike group now join the USS Carl Vinson strike group in the Pacific.  The Carl Vinson has been in the headlines in recent weeks as it steamed toward the Korean peninsula amid heightened tensions between the North Korean government and an international community intent on seeing their nuclear aspirations stymied.

The Ronald Reagan will be conducting its regularly scheduled “routine patrols” of the Pacific, which will likely include maintaining a presence in or near the South China Sea.  China has dramatically increased its military presence in the heavily trafficked waterway while laying claim to the majority of the region, despite conflicting claims being levied by a number of other Asian nations that share a coast with the body of water.

The Ronald Reagan strike group’s presence in the region, however, could easily be seen as a statement to the North Korean government, as well as critical Chinese and Russian government officials that claim to seek a denuclearized Korean peninsula but seem to consistently place the blame for tensions with North Korea on the United States.

Despite making no official statements indicating that the Ronald Reagan will head for the Sea of Japan, where the USS Carl Vinson Strike Group is currently operating, its relative proximity in the South China Sea amounts to a massive show of force in the region.  Collectively, the Ronald Reagan and Carl Vinson boast a crew of upwards of 10,000 sailors, 90 F/A-18C Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighters, and a number of other types of aircraft.

These massive vessels are the largest warships ever put to sea, but they aren’t the only U.S. vessels in the Pacific that pack a formidable punch.  Each Nimitz Class Carrier is accompanied by guided missile destroyers, Aegis destroyers, Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and usually at least one nuclear attack submarine shadowing the Naval entourage to provide anti-submarine warfare security.