USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is in the Atlantic and on its way home after transiting the Strait of Gibraltar on Friday, U.S. 6th Fleet announced.
USS Normandy (CG-60), part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, also transited the strait Friday, 6th Fleet said in a news release. USS McFaul (DDG-74) and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), two ship assigned to the carrier strike group, returned home to Norfolk, Va., and Mayport, Fla., respectively, Friday, U.S. 2nd Fleet said in a statement.
Ford, the flagship of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, was in the Mediterranean Sea for 204 days – a little less than seven months as part of an overall eight-month deployment. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin extended the carrier strike group three times during its deployment, most recently in December, pushing the ships’ deployments out past the holidays. Austin also extended the deployment in October and November, USNI News reported.
Deployments for the last three carrier strike groups to enter the Mediterranean have also been long, with USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) out for 285 and USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) out for 257 days.
The increase in deployment length started as a result of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine. However, Ford moved into the Eastern Mediterranean after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct, 7.
While Thomas Hudner was in the Red Sea, it was one of the U.S. warships that engaged a number of Houthi-launched drones, USNI News reported.
With the Ford Strike Group heading home, USS Bataan (LHD-5) and USS Carter Hall (LSD-50), with elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked, moved into the Eastern Mediterranean, joining USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19). The move brings all three ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group back together.
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), the flagship of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, is in the Red Sea as part of U.S. efforts to prevent Houthi attacks on merchant ships, according to USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.