After eight months of combat deployment, the US Navy announced last Monday that the strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, the largest warship in the world, was leaving the eastern Mediterranean Sea and returning home, CNN reported.
The US Sixth Fleet, which is based in Italy, said the strike group would be returning to its home port in Norfolk, Virginia in the “coming days.”
The USS Gerald R. Ford began its 8-month deployment on May 2.
First commissioned in 2017, the 100,000-ton Gerald R. Ford is the Navy’s first new carrier class vessel in more than 40 years. It carries a contingent of F/A-18 Super Hornet jets.
Following the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks, the strike group led by the Gerald R. Ford arrived off the coast of Israel as part of the US’s “regional deterrence and defense posture,” according to the Sixth Fleet.
The Pentagon extended the Gerald R. Ford’s deployment in the Mediterranean three times since Israel’s war with Hamas began.
With its departure, the USS Eisenhower will be the only US Navy aircraft carrier in the Middle East to patrol the Red Sea where Houthi rebels in Yemen, since November, have launched dozens of attacks on container ships and merchant vessels.
Just one day before the Sixth Fleet announced that the Gerald R. Ford strike group was leaving the region, Houthi rebels in four small boats attempted to seize a container ship in the Southern Red Sea.
US Central Command reported on December 31 that the Maersk container ship Hangzhou sent a distress call reporting that it was under attack by four boats only hours after it had come under missile attack.
The USS Eisenhower and the destroyer the USS Gravely responded, deploying two helicopters. When the helicopter crews issued verbal commands to the boats, the Houthis aboard opened fire on the helicopters. The crews aboard the helicopters returned fire, sinking three of the boats and killing the rebels aboard.