Ford and Eisenhower carriers will come home, eventually

by Tommy Grant

The aircraft carrier Eisenhower will wrap up a deployment in the Middle Eastern waters of U.S. Central Command in 2024.

Meanwhile, as of Navy Times’ December deadline, the carrier Gerald R. Ford’s deployment had been extended once again, and the flattop remained on station in the Mediterranean Sea, where it has operated since leaving Norfolk, Virginia, in May.

The Eisenhower arrived in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in November, the first time a carrier has operated in Central Command’s area of responsibility since the end of the Afghanistan war in 2021.

“The arrival of [the Ike Carrier Strike Group] to Middle East region displays our speed and agility to flex as our nation’s leaders determined a balance of maritime capability in support of national security priorities,” Rear Adm. Marc Miguez, commander of Carrier Strike Group 2, said in a Navy news release in November. “The strike group brings an unparalleled combat superiority to CENTCOM and we will be leveraging our presence in the theater to enhance regional security and operate alongside our allies and partners.”

The carrier got underway from Norfolk, Virginia, in October, and under the Navy’s Optimized Fleet Response Plan, strike groups usually deploy for seven or eight months.

The Pentagon announced in October that the Ike, originally slated to deploy to the European theater this fall, would head to the Middle East — days after Navy destroyer Carney intercepted cruise missiles and drones that U.S. officials attributed to Iran-allied Houthi rebel forces in Yemen fired. The announcement also came following attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.

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