Photo Credit: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Maxwell Orlosky
F/A-18 Super Hornets prepare for flight operations on the deck of the USS Gerald R. Ford in the Mediterranean Sea, Oct. 13, 2023.

The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier strike group will leave the eastern Mediterranean Sea “in the coming days,” and return to its home port of Norfolk, Virginia, according to an ABC News report, citing two US officials.

The USS Gerald R. Ford is the US Navy’s newest and largest aircraft carrier, the lead ship of her class. On October 8, 2023, the day after the Hamas attack on Israel, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed the Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean “As part of our effort to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas’s attack on Israel.”


Along with the carrier, the group includes the cruiser Normandy, and the destroyers Ramage, Carney, Roosevelt, and Thomas Hudner.

The Gerald R. Ford and Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Groups. / Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Janae Chambers

One senior US official emphasized that despite the departure of the Ford, the United States will maintain significant military capacity in the region with the ability to deploy extra cruisers and destroyers in the Mediterranean and the Middle East with great flexibility.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower US Navy carrier strike group was initially directed to join the Ford in the eastern Mediterranean. However, it was later redirected to the Persian Gulf region to discourage Iran from escalating the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Finally, according to the US Government Accountability Office mid-2020 report, the Gerald R. Ford was experiencing significant problems with the operation of her weapons elevators. An early 2021 Defense Dept. report said the Ford was still not combat-ready, citing continuing problems with the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System. Designed to achieve 4,166 aircraft launches between operational mission failures, it accomplished only 181.

So, maybe the loss will not be so great.

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