Third Might be Used to Deter Iran
The US Navy aircraft carrier USS Dwight D.Eisenhower has now deployed from the east coast of the USA and is heading – as already long-planned – to the Mediterranean. But the US Department of Defense has confirmed the Nimitz Class ship & accompanying Carrier Strike Group (CSG) will operate alongside the USS Gerald R. Ford CSG in the eastern Med.
The Eisenhower was originally meant to replace the Ford, which has been deployed since May, so the latter could return home. USS Gerald R. Ford looks likely to remain in the E. Med during the current crisis until yet another of the USN’s eleven carriers can be sent as a replacement to work with the Eisenhower.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said on October 14: “I have directed the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG to begin moving to the Eastern Mediterranean.” He added: “As part of our effort to deter hostile actions against Israel, or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas’s attack on Israel, the Strike Group includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, guided-missile destroyers USS Gravely and USS Mason and Carrier Air Wing 3, with nine aircraft squadrons, and embarked headquarters staffs.”
The destroyers and cruiser are combined armed with hundreds of missiles, including deep strike Tomahawk Land-attack Cruise Missiles (LACM). It is thought USN forward-deployed destroyers in the European theatre of operations might back up the Eisenhower CSG, which likely has a nuclear-powered attack submarine in company (also armed with conventionally-tipped cruise missiles).
Secretary Austin said that the Eisenhower CSG “will join the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, which arrived [in the E. Med] earlier…” He explained that the Ford CSG includes the cruiser USS Normandy, plus destroyer USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney and USS Roosevelt. It also likely includes a US Navy attack submarine. The air wing embarked in USS Gerald R. Ford is CVW-8.
Amid the US Navy assigning CSGs to deterrent operations in E. Med as conflict in Gaza & Israel escalates, aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson & attendant CSG of cruise missile-armed ships – now at sea in Indo-Pacific – possibly offers a means to deter Iran, if moved to poise in the Arabian Sea.
Warships IFR recently had a team aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford on operations in the Mediterranean. For part one of that feature, which provides insight into how the world’s biggest warship operates, see the October edition of the magazine.
Part two, including an interview with the Commanding Officer of USS Gerald R. Ford, is in the November edition of Warship IFR, which is published this coming week.