USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Now Operating in the Red Sea

November 3, 2023 2:12 PM
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) transits through the Suez Canal, Nov. 4, 2023. US Navy Photo

This post has been updated with a statement from U.S. 5th fleet.

Carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) entered the Middle East through the Suez Canal over the weekend, U.S. 5th Fleet announced on Saturday.

Eisenhower, USS Philippine Sea (CG-58) and USS Mason (DDG-87) entered the Red Sea after transiting from the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal, Nov. 4., reads a statement from 5th Fleet.

It will be the first time a U.S. carrier will operate in the Middle East since USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) departed the region in 2021.

For the first time in decades, two U.S. aircraft carriers sailed together in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, U.S. 6th fleet announced Friday.

Prior to sailing down the Suez, Ike and USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) drilled for three days in the Mediterranean Sea along with USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20) and two Italian guided-missile frigates.

“Operating dual carrier strike groups alongside Allies and Partners in a dynamic environment demonstrates our capability and capacity to respond with agility decisively to any contingency,” Vice Adm. Thomas Ishee, commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet said in a Friday statement. “Our presence sends a clear signal about our commitment to deter aggression and promote stability throughout the region.”

The Ike Carrier Strike Group entered the region this week ahead of a planned transit to U.S. Central Command this weekend, a Navy official told USNI News Thursday.

The Ike CSG deployed on Oct. 14, from Naval Station Norfolk, Va., with the initial intention to relieve the Ford Strike Group that had been operating in the Mediterranean since June as part of the regional U.S. and NATO presence mission. The U.S. has maintained a carrier strike group in the region since December of 2021 ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) steams in formation with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) during a photo exercise, Nov. 3, 2023. US Navy Photo

Shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in southern Israel, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin extended Ford’s deployment and shifted the strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean as part of the U.S. effort to keep the conflict from spreading.

There have been 23 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, Pentagon officials said Monday. Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters that the number of attacks is an increase in an area that is familiar to clashes, but she did not say how much of an increase.

Meanwhile, two ships Bataan Amphibious Ready Group – USS Bataan (LHD-5) and USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) – with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked – have taken up station in the northern Red Sea along with at least three guided-missile destroyers. The third ship in the ARG, USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19), is in the Eastern Mediterranean.

USNI News previously reported that the last time there were two carriers simultaneously in the Eastern Med. was in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq. USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) were launching missions from the Eastern Mediterranean.

In February of 1993, aircraft carriers USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and their escorts were operating in the Eastern Mediterranean as part of the ongoing operation to enforce the no-fly zone over Bosnia.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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