The Norfolk-based George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group is in the Atlantic sailing for home after seven and a half months in the Mediterranean Sea, according to Wednesday photos from ship spotters.
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar Wednesday after arriving in the region on Aug. 25, according to photos posted on social. Bush is set to begin the return journey to its homeport in Norfolk, Va.
The carrier spent a total of 230 days in the Mediterranean Sea as part of the ongoing U.S. and NATO presence operations in the region, according to USNI News carrier deployment database.
Bush’s departure means there will not be a U.S. carrier in the region for the first time since December 2021. At the time, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) to remain in the Mediterranean Sea rather than continue on to operate in the Middle East as part of the continued response to the Russo-Ukraine war.
Austin extended the Bush Strike Group following March attacks on U.S. forces in Syria that injured a dozen Americans and killed a contractor.
Hace unas horas ha cruzado por el estrecho de gibraltar el buque portaaviones USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) ?? que regresa a su base naval de Norfolk, tras más de 6 meses de despliegue por el mediterráneo. pic.twitter.com/HsX1lvTZ7M
— @maritimegraphy (@maritimegraphy) April 12, 2023
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. has kept a carrier in the as part of the overarching deterrence missions along NATO’s eastern flank. Truman returned to Norfolk, Va., on Sept. 12 after more than nine months deployed – the longest continuous European carrier deployment in more than 20 years.
The Truman CSG was relieved by Bush, cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) and destroyers USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), USS Truxtun (DDG-103) and USS Farragut (DDG-99). Delbert D. Black, Truxton and Farragut are part of Destroyer Squadron 26 and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7.
The U.S. is set to deploy the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group from Norfolk the first week of May, USNI News reported last week.
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-77), Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 8 and Ford’s escorts returned from its month-long composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) certified for its first world-wide deployment.
This week, the Navy made a rare public announcement that an Ohio-class guided-missile nuclear submarine USS Florida (SSGN-728) was deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet.
“The submarine entered the region April 6 and began transiting the Suez Canal the following day,” spokesman Cmdr. Tim Hawkins said in a statement. “Florida is a nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine homeported in Kings Bay, Ga. It is capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles and is deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet to help ensure regional maritime security and stability.”