Report: After Months Battling Houthis, Navy Wants to Bring Eisenhower Home

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, left, steams alongside Italian Navy forces, June 7 (USN)
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, left, steams alongside Italian Navy forces in the Red Sea, June 7 (USN)

Published Jun 19, 2024 6:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

After 250 in the Med and the Mideast, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has achieved the mantle of most-deployed carrier in the fleet - and the Navy wants to bring her home, according to a new report.

USS Eisenhower is stationed in the Red Sea to defend shipping interests from attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels. The terrorist group claims to have carried out multiple attacks on the carrier itself, and the Associated Press confirms that Houthi missiles have made it close enough that crewmembers in her strike group were able to watch air defenses in action. (The carrier's commanding officer confirms that Eisenhower has not, however, been hit or sunk - as often claimed by Houthi leaders.) While the ship is unharmed, the regular exposure to risk has Navy leaders concerned about the need to treat possible post-traumatic stress amongst the crew, according to AP. 

An F/A-18 strike fighter takes off from USS Eisenhower to bombard Houthi targets, Jan. 2024 (USN)

Beyond fatigue, Eisenhower and her escorts are subject to the same laws of nature as any ship: extended deployments take a toll on material readiness. When routine maintenance cycles are disrupted, wear and rust begin to accelerate. 

"We are constantly reminding the Department of Defense that we’re going to need to take a respite and a break, to try and get back to maintenance," said Rear Adm. Marc Miguez, the strike group's off-going commander. "These ships are floating around in seawater."

The possibilities for replacing Eisenhower with another supercarrier appear limited in the immediate term, according to AP, and the Pentagon could substitute a big-deck amphibious assault vessel carrying F-35B fighters - much like the rotation for USS Gerald R. Ford last year

On Sunday, Rear Adm. Miguez was relieved of command in a regular rotation, and he will return to Washington to serve as the Navy's chief liaison to Congress. CSG-2 is now commanded by Rear Adm. Kavon Hakimzadeh, the former commanding officer of carrier USS Harry S. Truman. In a speech, 5th Fleet commander Vice Adm. George Wikoff called the Red Sea engagement "the Navy's finest moments since World War II," and he credited Miguez for its success. 

"The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group has done amazing things, more than any carrier strike group dating back decades. Every man and woman out here . . . [is] delivering decisive combat power to preserve freedom of the seas," Miguez said. 

In recent weeks, open-source satellite imaging suggests that Eisenhower has operated in the northern half of the sea, far from Yemeni shores. This time period overlaps with an intensified campaign of Houthi attacks on civilian shipping, resulting in one death, multiple injuries and the loss of one merchant ship.