U.S., French and Italian aircraft carriers operated together near Italy, the Navy announced on Wednesday.
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) joined with Italian carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550) and the French carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91) for unspecified exercises in the Ionian Sea a week after the Pentagon announced five allied carriers would operate in Europe.
“We are stronger when we work together, and operations like these highlight not only our interoperability, but our interchangeability with our partner and allies,” Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander, Carrier Strike Group 10 said in a statement.
Bush, its escorts and the embarked Carrier Air Wing 7 have been operating in the Mediterranean Sea since August. Prior to Bush’s arrival to the region, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), its escorts and CVW-1 had been in the Mediterranean Sea since December ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February.
Both carriers have exercised with Charles de Gaulle and Cavour going in and out of NATO command while flying presence missions along NATO’s eastern front and have been operating mainly around Italy.
Charles de Gaulle left its homeport of Toulon last week for Mission Antares which will see the carrier and its airwing deploy to the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean with about 3,000 sailors, according to the French Navy.
“The CSG demonstrates France’s ability to intervene by controlling any escalation The sea and air operations of the carrier strike group are coordinated with the allies,” reads a statement from the French MoD.
Its escorts include ships from France, the U.S. and Greece but the French Navy did not specify the specific ships.
Ship spotters identified U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG-80), Hellenic Navy Elli-class frigate Adrias (F459), Italian Navy FREMM frigate Virginio Fasan (F591) and French Navy FREMM DA frigate Alsace (D656) departing with the carrier, according to Naval News.
Not included in the exercise, the U.K. carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) is operating in the Atlantic taking over for missions that were earmarked for the now side-lined HMS Prince of Wales (R09).
Pentagon leaders highlighted the several NATO carriers underway last week.
“These operations present an opportunity for allied nations to coordinate critical combat power throughout the Euro-Atlantic area while showcasing NATO cohesion and interoperability,” Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, told reporters Thursday.
The five NATO carriers in Europe will be soon down to four. Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) which has operated in the Atlantic since leaving Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 4, is set to return to the U.S. on Saturday, U.S. 2nd Fleet announced.