USS Gerald R. Ford cruises alongside the USNS Laramie (T-AO-203) during a fueling-at-sea in the Eastern Mediterranean, Oct. 14, 2023. (U.S Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 6th Fleet / Handout via Reuters)
The U.S. Navy announced Monday that it is ending the deployment of the Gerald Ford aircraft carrier in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The nuclear-powered Ford, the Navy’s newest carrier with over 4,000 personnel and eight squadrons of aircraft, became a powerful symbol of American support by rushing closer to Israel after Hamas’ Oct. 7 incursion.
In response, Israeli forces launched relentless attacks in Gaza, reducing much of the territory to rubble, killing over 20,000 and plunging its 2.3 million people into a humanitarian disaster.
Israel says the Hamas attack killed 1,200 people. Palestinian health authorities in Gaza say Israeli forces have killed nearly 22,000 people, mostly women and children.
“Immediately following Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel, the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group was ordered to the eastern Mediterranean to contribute to our regional deterrence and defense posture,” the Navy said in a statement.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had extended the Ford’s deployment three times in hopes that its presence would deter Iran and Iran-aligned groups, particularly Lebanon’s Hezbollah, from attacking Israel.
U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria have endured drone and rocket attacks by Iran-backed militia. Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen have disrupted global trade by attacking commercial tankers and container ships in the Red Sea with drones and missiles.
“DoD (Department of Defense) will continue to leverage its collective force posture in the region to deter any state or non-state actor from escalating this crisis beyond Gaza,” the Navy said.