Aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) is approaching the Persian Gulf as of Thursday, USNI News has learned.
Ike and its escorts were spotted just outside the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf of Oman, according to ship spotters. A defense official confirmed the location of Ike to USNI News, but would not say whether the carrier will enter the Persian Gulf.
If the strike group passes through the Strait of Hormuz it would be the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier sails in the Persian Gulf since USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in late 2020, according to the USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.
The Ike CSG deployed on Oct. 14, from Naval Station Norfolk. The strike group was initially going to take up station in the Mediterranean Sea and relieve USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), but was instead routed to U.S. Central Command following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in southern Israel.
Ike transited the Suez Canal on Nov. 4 into the Red Sea and transited the Bab el Mandeb into the Gulf of Aden over the weekend.
As of Thursday, Ford and its escorts had moved west from their previous position off the coast of Israel to south of Crete, according to ship spotters. As of Sunday, the Ford strike group will have been deployed for 200 days after extensions signed by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. It’s the Naval Station Norfolk, Va.,-based first-in-class carrier’s first worldwide deployment.
Overall, the U.S. naval build-up consists of the two carrier strike groups, the three-ship Bataan Amphibious Ready Group with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked and several guided-missile destroyers. USS Bataan (LHD-5) and USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) are operating in the northern portion of the Red Sea, while USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) is in the Eastern Mediterranean along with the command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20).
Additionally, the Pentagon widely broadcast the Nov. 5th transit of the nuclear guided-missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN-728). There are some number of U.S. attack submarines in the region, but the Defense Department does not typically disclose their locations.
The naval buildup is part of the U.S. effort to keep the current conflict in southern Israel and Gaza contained. As of Thursday, there have been 57 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.
On Wednesday, USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) shot down a drone launched from Yemen, according to a statement from U.S. 5th Fleet.
“Our assessment right now is that the intended target was not the Hudner, but that the drone got so close to the crew that the commander did feel it necessary to engage and shoot down the drone,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters on Thursday. Last week, Houthi forces shot down an MQ-9 Reaper over the Red Sea.