The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is more than halfway across the Atlantic on its way to join the mass of U.S. naval forces in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East following the Hamas attacks on Israel earlier this month. Meanwhile, the French deployed an amphibious warship to join U.S. and U.K. ships to deter the conflict from spreading beyond Israel.
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) is now operating in the eastern Atlantic Ocean after leaving the East Coast late last week, defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Thursday. Within the next few days, the carrier and its escorts are expected to transit the Strait of Gibraltar
The Ike Carrier Strike Group, which 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), deployed Oct. 14 with Carrier Air Wing 3 embarked, according to the USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.
Initially tasked to operate in tandem with the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, Ike will instead travel through the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal to the Middle East to operate in U.S. 5th Fleet.
It will be the first time a U.S. carrier strike group will be operating in the Middle East since the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group withdrew from the North Arabian Sea after supporting the evacuation of Afghanistan.
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) and its escorts were dispatched from the Central Mediterranean to take up a station closer to Israel and its deployment was extended on orders from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“When we send them somewhere, we are deliberately sending an incredibly strong signal to our adversaries, but also to our allies and partners about the depth of our support and the ability of the U.S. military to expeditiously dynamically respond to contingencies anywhere in the world. That’s what we’re demonstrating today in the Middle East,” a senior defense official told reporters on Monday.
In addition, amphibious warships USS Bataan (LHD-5) and USS Carter Hall are in the Gulf of Aden approaching the Red Sea as of Thursday, Navy officials confirmed to USNI News. The other ship in the three-ship Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) has been operating in the Eastern Mediterranean since last week.
The collection of ships will be among the largest mass of U.S. ships in the region in decades, USNI News reported earlier this week.
The Air Force has dispatched additional fighter squadrons to the region while Austin has ordered Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries and more Patriot battalions to the Middle East.
The moves from the U.S. are to discourage the conflict from spreading beyond Israel and to support U.S. troops on the ground in places such as Iraq and Syria as Israeli Defense Forces consider sending ground forces into Gaza.
Fifteen U.S. troops in Syria at Al Tanf garrison in Syria and four at Al Asad air base in Iraq were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries following last week’s combined drone and rocket attacks on the installations from forces similar, reported Politico.
Also this week, the French Navy dispatched the Mistral-class amphibious warship Tonnerre (L9014) to join two guided-missile frigates already in the Eastern Mediterranean, according to Naval News quoting a French Navy spokesperson. The Royal Navy has also sent Bay-class landing ship dock RFA Lyme Bay (L3007) and the auxiliary ship RFA Argus (A135) to the region.