The US Navy carrier strike group led by aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the Middle East after transiting the Suez Canal on April 2.
The aircraft carrier made the transit one day after the canal reopened. Traffic through the busy waterway had previously been blocked after the container ship Ever Given spent almost a week stranded on the banks of the canal.
Despite being confined to the Mediterranean Sea last week, Eisenhower and its Carrier Air Wing 3 supported operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq and launched sorties in support of the mission as late as March 31.
Prior to that, ships assigned to the Eisenhower carrier strike group also operated in the Black Sea with NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2.
Eisenhower was joined on its Suez Canal transit by guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) and guided-missile destroyers USS Mitscher (DDG 57) and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).
“We appreciate the government of Egypt and Suez Canal Authority’s efforts to ensure the safety of navigation in this critical waterway for all ships, and in allowing the IKE CSG to transit so quickly,” said Vice Adm. Samuel Paparo, Commander US Naval Forces Central Command, US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.
The carrier is on its second deployment in a single year, having deployed in February this year.
Eisenhower will reinforce the navy’s presence in the Middle East, after sister ship USS Nimitz departed the region earlier this year. Meanwhile, the French aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle is leading the US Naval Forces Central Command’s (NAVCENT) Task Force (CTF) 50, which is responsible for coordinating carrier group operations in the Middle East.