For the first time in ten months, a U.S. aircraft carrier is now operating in the Persian Gulf, U.S. 5th Fleet announced on Friday morning.
USS Nimitz (CVN-68) passed through the Strait of Hormuz with the guided-missile cruisers USS Princeton (CG-59) and USS Philippine Sea (CG-58) and guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG-104).
“The [Carrier Strike Group] will operate and train alongside regional and coalition partners, and provide naval aviation support to Operation Inherent Resolve,” read a statement from 5th Fleet.
Nimitz is the first carrier to operate in the Persian Gulf since USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) made the Strait of Hormuz transit last November. The last capital ship to sail in the Persian Gulf was USS Bataan (LHD-5) in April. Transiting the Strait of Hormuz brings ships close to Iranian territory patrolled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN). Operating in the Persian Gulf puts warships in range of Iranian anti-ship missiles. The transit will also give the carrier access to the port facilities at the U.S. naval base in Bahrain.
The U.S. has maintained a constant carrier presence just outside the Persian Gulf in the North Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman since May of 2019, when Lincoln was rushed to the region as a hedge against Iran at the request of U.S. Central Command head Gen. Kenneth McKenzie and then-National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Lincoln’s relief, USS Eisenhower (CVN-69), spent its time in 5th Fleet without entering the Persian Gulf or making a port visit as a preventive measure against COVID-19. Last week, Nimitz pulled into Duqm, Oman, the first for a U.S. carrier since February. The strike group and Carrier Air Wing 17 deployed in June and has been operating in U.S. 5th Fleet since July.