Yesterday I was able to go out and shoot the USS Reagan as she departed for sea, through Tokyo Bay, from her homeport in Yokosuka, Japan. I was sitting at a parking lot on base looking in to the foggy bay, shooting in the rain, when my wife who is active duty Navy came from work. She came to have a glance mentioning this would probably be the last time she’d see an aircraft carrier departing. My wife is retiring at the end of the year and we’re off to Texas and we’ll both be retired, I retired 10 years ago. Until she mentioned this, the last time she’d watch a carrier depart, I hadn’t thought of it that way. It kind of hit home that I’ve been around the US Navy for 40 years now, I realized I need to get out there and shoot plenty of ships before leaving as the chances of finding ships in El Paso, Texas are fairly slim.
The USS Reagan, CVN-76, departed as I was shooting with a handful of families around me having soft conversations. It’s the part of the military most people don’t see, the part families don’t look forward to… Departing ships aren’t as much of a big deal as when they return, there was no band or ceremony, just these few families. There is nothing like the aircraft carrier departing, seeing the harbor tugs out there before waiting and clearing out the boat and ship traffic to be followed by a helicopter flying circles around the mighty ship slowly moving through the water; it’s a big evolution. On this rainy day, the weather was less than desirable as I stood there with the families photographing the Reagan. Now she slipped in to the fog bank quietly, with the loved ones aboard of those few around me.