The Pentagon announced over the weekend that the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) and its strike group won’t be headed to the eastern Mediterranean Sea to join USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) – the U.S. Navy’s newest and largest supercarrier. Instead, CVN-69 is being deployed on Iran’s doorstep.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower will head to the Persian Gulf, an area of operations under the command of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. This will position the CVN-78 off the coast of Israel, while CVN-69 will be off the coast of Iran.
Both carriers will serve as a deterrent to Tehran and other groups in the Middle East, as Israel continues to prepare for an expected ground invasion into Gaza. There remains a serious concern that the conflict could escalate into a regional war between Israel and Iran.
“[We’ve] seen rocket and UAV attacks against bases housing our troops in Iraq and Syria. We’re concerned about potential escalation,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Sunday following the announcement that the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower would be headed to the Persian Gulf.
“In fact, what we’re seeing is a prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our people throughout the region. And because of that, we’re going to do what’s necessary to make sure that our troops are in the right — in a good position, and they’re protected, and that we have the ability to respond,” Austin told ABC’s Jonathan Karl during an interview on “This Week.”
The U.S. State Department has also ordered non-emergency personnel to depart embassies in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Erbil “due to increased security threats against U.S. government personnel and interests.”
The U.S. Navy Shot Down Missiles and Drones
It was just days ago that the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG-64) shot down multiple missiles and drones while deployed in the northern Red Sea. The missiles and drones had been launched by the Iranian-back Houthis in Yemen, and according to Pentagon officials were headed at targets in Israel.
As ABC News reported, it was the first time in recent memory that a U.S. warship in the Middle East has engaged missiles and drones that were not directly aimed at the vessel, while it was also the first U.S. military action taken to defend Israel.
“We cannot say for certain what these missiles and drones were targeting but they were launched from Yemen heading north along the Red Sea potentially to targets in Israel,” Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Pat Ryder told reporters during last Thursday’s press briefing.
Washington had urged Israel to delay its ground assault into Gaza, hoping to buy additional time for hostage negotiations and to allow more humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians in the sealed-off enclave, according to several U.S. officials, The New York Times reported.
On Monday, Israel pounded hundreds of targets in Gaza from the air, while Israel Defense Force (IDF) troops fought Hamas militants during raids conducted in the besieged Palestinian enclave.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.