Pentagon: Five Allied Aircraft Carriers Operating Around Europe
Five NATO carriers will be operating simultaneously around Europe in the coming days, the Pentagon announced Thursday, though not in the same location. Two are U.S. Navy nuclear-powered carriers, joined by warships from France, the UK and Italy.
The carrier USS George H.W. Bush has been deployed in the Mediterranean since late August, accompanied by her strike group. Her presence ensures a U.S. response capability if needed in Eastern Europe; she has also had opportunities to call in Souda Bay, Greece and Split, Croatia.
The USS Gerald R. Ford recently arrived in the Solent, off Portsmouth, UK, and her crew were allowed shore leave in the city on Monday. It is Ford's first ever deployment since her delivery in 2017, and she carried out exercises with a substantial group of allied warships during her first crossing of the North Atlantic. Some of her escorts have departed and headed out for good-will port calls in Northern Europe: USS Normandy is in Normandy and USCGC Hamilton has called in Riga, Latvia.
According to the Pentagon, Ford and Bush are engaged in a "regularly scheduled multination seafaring operation" to demonstrate the ability for NATO allies to coordinate. They are joined by the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, the Royal Navy carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, and the Italian carrier Cavour.
"These operations present an opportunity for allied nations to coordinate credible combat power throughout the Euro/Atlantic area, while showcasing NATO cohesion and interoperability," Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said at a briefing Thursday. "It is also an opportunity to test allied cooperation and to practice NATO's deter and defend concepts across all geographic areas, operational domains and functional areas of the Alliance."
The demonstrations come at a time of heightened tensions between NATO's allied nations and Russia over the ongoing war in Ukraine. On Tuesday, a missile fell on a border village in Poland, prompting NATO member states to make a rapid evaluation of whether it was of Russian origin - and possibly a sign of Russian aggression beyond Ukrainian borders However, initial data suggests that it was a failed air-defense missile launched by Ukraine, according to open-source intelligence analysts and U.S. defense officials.