Aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford returns home after 8-month deployment

by Tommy Grant

The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford arrived home in Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, on Jan. 17 after completing a historic eight-month deployment.

The head of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, the carrier extended 76 days beyond its original deployment schedule, having moved to the Mediterranean Sea on the heels of the Oct. 7, 2023 attack on Israel by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

“Though extended, we were the right ship at the right time to answer the call, and our sailors performed admirably,” Capt. Rick Burgess, the Ford’s commanding officer, said in a release. “Ford sailors honored our namesake’s legacies of hard work, integrity, and courage.”

While extended, the strike group was tasked with deterrence and supporting NATO allies in the region.

Over the course of 239 days away from Norfolk, “the ship’s crew conducted 43 underway replenishments, logged more than 17,826 flight hours and 10,396 sorties, sailed more than 83,476 nautical miles, and safely transferred 20.7 million gallons of fuel with zero mishaps,” according to the release.

The amphibious assault ship Bataan, amphibious transport ship Mesa Verde, and dock landing ship Carter Hall are taking the carrier’s place in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Navy officials previously told Navy Times.

The Ford has been underway since May. Its strike group consists of Carrier Air Wing Eight, Destroyer Squadron Two, the Ticonderoga-class cruiser Normandy, and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers Ramage, McFaul, and Thomas Hudner.

Over the course of the deployment, the carrier made port calls in Croatia, Greece, Italy, Norway and Turkey

“We excelled during a very challenging deployment, demonstrating the capabilities of a U.S. Navy carrier strike group, assuring our partners and allies, and deterring our adversaries,” Rear Adm. Erik Eslich, the strike group’s commander, said in the release. “I am incredibly proud of every member of the strike group.”

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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