This post was updated with a Pentagon statement confirming USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is heading to the Eastern Mediterranean.
Two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers deployed this week, with four carrier strike groups currently deployed across the globe, USNI News has learned.
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) left Norfolk Naval Station on Saturday morning, according to ship spotters. Ike’s deployment will take the CSG to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to join USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) and its strike group, according to a late Saturday Pentagon statement.
“The Eisenhower CSG will join the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, which arrived earlier this week,” reads a statement from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“The increases to U.S. force posture signal the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and our resolve to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war.”
Meanwhile, USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) quietly left Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., on Thursday for a deployment to the Indo-Pacific, a Navy official confirmed to USNI News on Friday.
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While the U.S. Navy disclosed the Eisenhower CSG’s scheduled deployment several days before its departure, the service did not announce Vinson‘s deployment. When asked for comment on Thursday, a spokesperson for U.S. 3rd Fleet provided a statement confirming Vinson was underway but did not disclose the carrier’s deployment status.
“USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) is currently underway conducting routine operations in the U.S. 3rd Fleet are of operations. U.S. 3rd Fleet works together with our allies and partners to advance freedom of navigation, the rule of law, and other principles that underpin security for the Indo-Pacific region,” 3rd Fleet said in a statement.
Video shared on social media showed the crew of Vinson manning the rails of the carrier – a tradition at the start of a deployment – as it departed San Diego.
U.S. Pacific Fleet has been irregular in announcing deployments of Carrier Strike Groups and Amphibious Ready Groups from the West Coast since 2018 at the discretion of then-U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, now U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Adm. John Aquilino. Last November, the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit quietly left San Diego for a deployment to the Indo-Pacific without any announcements from the Navy.
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group includes Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Gravely (DDG-107) and USS Mason (DDG-87) and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG-58). Gravely and Philippine Sea are both based at Naval Station Norfolk, while Mason is based at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
“Along with the surface ships, the IKECSG is comprised of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2 staff, the squadrons and staff of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 22 staff and the Information Warfare Commander,” the Navy said in a news release earlier this week announcing Ike’s deployment.
Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG-59) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Hopper (DDG-70), USS Kidd (DDG-100), USS Sterett (DDG-104) and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) make up the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group.
This week’s scheduled deployments of Vinson and Eisenhower occurred amid a violent conflict in the Middle East after Hamas, a U.S. State Department-designated terrorist group that governs the Gaza Strip, launched an attack last week on civilians in southern Israel. Nearly 1,800 people in Gaza and 1,300 in Israel have been killed in the ongoing conflict, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered Ford and its escorts to move closer to Israel this week after the attack. Ford had been operating in the Mediterranean all summer to continue the United States’ ongoing presence mission in U.S. European Command amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. Fleet Forces commander Adm. Daryl Caudle told USNI News on Friday that the Eisenhower CSG would relieve the Ford Carrier Strike Group, which is currently in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Ford, the Navy’s newest in-service aircraft carrier, left Norfolk in early May for its first worldwide deployment and has been operating throughout the Mediterranean Sea since mid-June.
Meanwhile, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), the Navy’s forward-deployed carrier, is also out on patrol, but currently in Busan, South Korea for a port visit. Reagan this week wrapped up drills with South Korea and Japan.
The last time four strike groups were underway was in early 2021, according to the USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.