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Ike aircraft carrier leaves Middle East, enters the Mediterranean Sea

The aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower is now sailing in the eastern Mediterranean Sea after operating in the Middle Eastern waters of U.S. Central Command since November.

The carrier, along with the guided-missile destroyer Gravely, transited the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean on Friday, according to the Navy.

The Ike and its carrier strike group first got underway in October amid concerns about a larger conflict erupting in the region at the onset of the Israel-Hamas war. The Eisenhower’s presence in the Middle East marked the first time a carrier operated in CENTCOM since the end of the Afghanistan war in 2021.

“The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group has delivered exceptional naval power in the U.S. 5th Fleet for the last five months,” Rear Adm. Marc Miguez, commander of Carrier Strike Group 2, said in a statement. “Reentry into the U.S. 6th Fleet is only a small gesture of our ability to project combat superiority to any part of the globe.”

During the deployment, the Eisenhower and its strike group participated in operations taking down missiles and drones that Houthi militants in Yemen launched toward military and commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Navy and Pentagon officials did not provide comment to Navy Times regarding why the Ike has entered the Mediterranean, which falls under U.S. European Command.

The Navy destroyer Carney, which had been battling Houthi rebels in the Middle East since October, also entered the Mediterranean earlier this month and helped intercept Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel on April 13.

The Ike’s carrier strike group includes destroyers Mason and Gravely, cruiser Philippine Sea and Carrier Air Wing 3.

When Ike will head home from its already-extended deployment remains unclear.

The aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman concluded a maintenance period in December. At the time, the Navy said that the carrier would next deploy in early 2024.

Lt. Cmdr. Dawn Stankus, a spokeswoman for Naval Air Force Atlantic, told Navy Times the Truman is expected to deploy “later this year” once it concludes its Composite Training Unit Exercise this summer.

Composite Training Unit Exercise, known as COMPTUEX, is required for deployment to bring together carrier strike group elements, and the Truman is not currently certified to deploy.

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