The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan departed the U.S. Navy's Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture on Thursday after nine years of deployment in Japan.

The carrier will return to the United States after patrolling in the western Pacific. The aircraft carrier USS George Washington will arrive in Japan later this year to take over.

"Japan has been an incredible host and a second home for the crew," Capt. Daryle Cardone, the Ronald Reagan's commanding officer, said before the carrier's departure.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said that the Ronald Reagan's crew members "deserve our heartfelt appreciation for their selflessness, their service and their sacrifice in keeping the Indo-Pacific safe, secure and stable."

The George Washington was deployed to the Yokosuka base, home to the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet, in 2008 and was replaced by the Ronald Reagan in 2015.