Navy Aircraft Carrier Departs Hong Kong Without 100 U.S. Sailors

About 100 American sailors were left behind in Hong Kong after a Navy aircraft carrier departed early because of weather concerns, an official said Tuesday.

The USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group left a day early Sunday as Typhoon Fengshen headed toward the territory, said Dale Kreisher, spokesman for the U.S. Consulate General.

The carrier attempted to recall all sailors enjoying shore leave in Hong Kong, but some were left behind.

"They have to go by the weather. The situation is that it looked like there was severe weather," Kreisher said.

U.S. officials were working to find flights to return the sailors to the carrier. He declined to say where the strike group — made up of the Ronald Reagan, a cruiser, three destroyers and a frigate — was heading, citing security reasons.

With about 6,000 sailors aboard, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier arrived in Hong Kong last Thursday and had been scheduled to leave port Monday.

Typhoon Fengshen was threatening Hong Kong on Sunday, though its strength weakened to a tropical storm Tuesday.

It's not the first time sailors were left behind. In late December 2004, the USS Abraham Lincoln left port early to help with humanitarian efforts related to the Indian Ocean tsunami.