The forces in the area include the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R Ford (CVN-78), the Ticonderoga-class guided missile destroyer, USS Normandy (CG-60) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), USS Rampage (DDG-61), USS Carney (DDG-64) and USS Roosevelt (DDG-80). Embarked aboard the Gerald R Ford – which deployed to the European theater in May – is Carrier Air Wing (CVW-8) and its eight squadrons of attack and support aircraft.
These squadrons comprise three single-seat F/A-18E Super Hornet units – Strike Fighter Squadron 31 (VFA-31) ‘Tomcatters’, VFA-37 ‘Ragin’ Bulls and VFA-87 ‘Golden Warriors’ – and one dual-seat F/A-18F squadron – VFA-213 ‘Black Lions’ – of which, each is equipped with between 10-12 aircraft. In addition to these, the Gerald R Ford is also hosting EA-18G Growlers from Electronic Attack Squadron 142 (VAQ-142) ‘Gray Wolves’; E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes from Airborne Command and Control Squadron 124 (VAW-124) ‘Bear Aces’; C-2A Greyhounds from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40 (VRC-40) Det 2; MH-60S Seahawks from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 9 (HSC-9) ‘Tridents’ and MH-60R Seahawks from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70 (HSM-70) ‘Spartans’.
“The arrival of these highly capable forces to the region is a strong signal of deterrence should any actor hostile to Israel consider trying to take advantage of this situation,” said Gen Michael ‘Erik’ Kurilla, commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM).
On October 10, the Pentagon directed the Carrier Strike Group 2 to also move to the eastern Mediterranean. Having departed Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, led by the nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN-69) – otherwise known as ‘Ike’ – with 5,000 sailors on October 14, it was expected to take between a week and a week-and-a-half for the strike group to reach the region. Much like the Gerald R Ford, ‘Ike’ deployed with a guided-missile cruiser, USS Philippine Sea (CG-58), and two guided-missile destroyers, USS Gravely (DDG-107) and USS Mason (DDG-87). CVW-3 has embarked with its air wing aboard Dwight D Eisenhower.
The aircraft embarked with CVW-3 aboard ‘Ike’ include F/A-18Es from VFA-83 ‘Rampagers’, VFA-105 ‘Gunslingers’ and VFA-131 ‘Wildcats’; F/A-18Fs from VFA-32 ‘Fighting Swordsmen’; EA-18Gs from VAQ-130 ‘Zappers’; E-2Cs from VAW-123 ‘Screwtops’; C-2As from VRC-40 Det 4 ‘Rawhides’; MH-60Ss from HSC-7 ‘Dusty Dogs’ and MH-60Rs from HSM-74 ‘Swamp Foxes’.