The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is currently in the Mediterranean Sea and could be within range of Ukraine in a short period of time.
An Aircraft Carrier In Europe, Watching Over Events Near Ukraine
Late in December, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the USS Harry S. Truman nuclear aircraft carrier and its escort ships to stay in the Mediterranean Sea instead of proceeding with their schedule that would have them going through the Suez Canal in the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf.
“Our Sailors are always ready to provide flexible mission capabilities, ranging from supporting maritime security operations and provide crisis response capability, to increasing theater security cooperation and providing forward naval presence in fleet areas of operation. We are prepared to integrate seamlessly whether it with the other ships, in the skies, or across the seas,” Captain Gavin Duff, the commanding officer of the USS Truman, said in a press release after a joint exercise with the Moroccan Navy in December.
In reality, however, the lingering presence of the Truman Carrier Strike Group in the region is more of a show of support to NATO allies and Ukraine rather than a threat of force to Russia. In December, President Joe Biden said that the U.S. wouldn’t deploy troops to Ukraine if the Kremlin decided to invade.
According to the U.S. Navy, the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to maintain maritime stability and security, and defend U.S., allied and partner interests in Europe and Africa
Besides the nuclear aircraft carrier, the Truman Carrier Strike Group is comprised of the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto and the guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 28 (USS Bainbridge, USS Cole, USS Gravely, and USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109).
In addition, the Norwegian Navy has sent HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen, a Fridtjof-Nansen class frigate, to augment the U.S. warships. This is the first time a Norwegian warship has been part of an American carrier strike group.
With a total of nine squadrons and air detachments, Carrier Air Wing 1 includes F/A-18F/E Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, C-2A Greyhound, MH-60S Knight Hawk, and MH-60R Sea Hawk fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.
More Muscle If Needed Ukraine Explodes
But the Truman Carrier Strike Group isn’t the only major Navy reaction force that could respond to developments in Ukraine. The Essex Amphibious Ready Group is in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Centered around the USS Essex, a landing helicopter dock, the Essex Amphibious Ready Group is comprised of the USS Portland, an amphibious transport dock, and USS Pearl Harbor, an amphibious dock landing ship.
But the task force’s main power lies in the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit that is embarked in the amphibious ready group. This Marine Corps unit contains a ground and aviation element can conduct battalion-sized operations.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.