The aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower and its carrier strike group are headed to the Eastern Mediterranean, joining the Ford Carrier Strike Group to provide support to Israel.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Saturday announced the Eisenhower will arrive in the region as part of an “effort to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war,” following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel’s retaliatory strikes.
Sending the Eisenhower to the eastern Mediterranean is the latest step the Pentagon has taken to bolster U.S. presence in the region amid the conflict, which has killed at least 27 Americans, and to prevent a broader regional war from breaking out.
The carrier departed Naval Station Norfolk Saturday for a scheduled deployment to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility to engage with allies and partners in the region, the Navy said in a statement earlier Saturday.
Ike is joined by Carrier Air Wing 3, the cruiser Philippine Sea and the destroyers Gravely and Mason.
On Tuesday, the Ford CSG arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean, according to U.S. Central Command. The strike group includes eight squadrons of attack and support aircraft, the destroyers Thomas Hudner, Ramage, Carney and Roosevelt, as well as the cruiser Normandy.
Additional assets sent to the region include U.S. Air Force F-15s, F-16s and A-10 fighter aircraft.
“The increases to U.S. force Posture signal the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and our resolve to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war,” Austin said in a news release Saturday.
While the Ike’s strike group deployed to replace Ford’s, it remains unclear how long both strike groups will operate off Israel, or when Ford will begin returning home.
Ford’s strike group deployed in May.
The Eisenhower wrapped up its Composite Training Unit Exercise, a certification required for deployment, in July following a maintenance period. The carrier strike group comprises more than 5,000 sailors and includes Carrier Air Wing 3, the destroyers Gravely and Mason, and the cruiser Philippine Sea.
The carrier’s most recent deployment concluded in July 2021, the second leg of a so-called “double-pump” deployment after returning from its last underway in August 2020.
During its time at sea in 2021, the Eisenhower conducted flight operations against the Islamic State in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and provided close air support for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.