Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

The US Navy has decided to bring back the USS Gerald R. Ford, the world’s largest aircraft carrier, to its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia. The decision follows an eight-month deployment in the eastern Mediterranean, initiated on May 2 in the wake of Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.

Commissioned in 2017, the USS Gerald R. Ford is hailed as the “most adaptable and lethal combat platform in the world.” This marked its inaugural combat deployment, where it played a role in regional deterrence and defense posture in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks.

With a contingent of F/A-18 Super Hornet jet fighters aboard, the 100,000-ton warship arrived off the coast of Israel shortly after the surprise attacks, contributing to the US Navy’s efforts in the region. Following its departure, the USS Eisenhower remains the sole US aircraft carrier in the area amid rising tensions related to Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

Recent events have underscored the escalating situation, with US forces, operating off the USS Eisenhower, engaging in a deadly confrontation with Houthi units over the weekend. Three Houthi boats involved in an attack on a commercial ship were sunk by US Navy helicopters, resulting in the crews’ fatalities.

Despite the USS Gerald R. Ford’s return, the US Navy asserts its extensive capability in the Mediterranean and across the Middle East. The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, along with other vessels, continues operations in the eastern Mediterranean. Additionally, guided-missile destroyers, which have recently countered Houthi drones and missiles, remain stationed in the region.

To bolster maritime security, the US has initiated Operation Prosperity Guardian, forming a maritime coalition aimed at enhancing security in the southern Red Sea. The US Sixth Fleet emphasizes collaboration with allies and partners to deter any escalation in the ongoing crisis, particularly in the context of the conflict between Hamas and Israel.

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