No US Aircraft Carriers Now Deployed; None Expected in Middle East for Months
For a rare couple of months, there will be no US Navy aircraft carrier in the Middle East.
But it's not only the Middle East whose waters are calmer: For the next week, there will be no American aircraft carriers deployed at sea anywhere else in the world, Fox reports.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its naval entourage, which had been deployed in the Middle East for the past seven months, returned to the Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia December 30.
Its replacement, the USS George H.W. Bush, is still held up in the shipyard, and is unlikely to depart for its next mission before the end of January, according to Defense News.
The gap could last as long as two months.
There was a similar carrier gap in the Middle East last fall, but a French carrier stepped in to fill it.
According to Fox, this is the first time there has not been a US aircraft carrier in the Middle East since 2007, and the first time since World War II that there has not been a single US carrier deployed anywhere in the world.
The USS George H. W. Bush recently completed a 13-month overhaul in Norfolk, a process that stretched months beyond its original end date.
Navy officials have suggested poor planning, a lack of training, funding interruptions and unspecified emergent work as reasons for the delay, but given no concrete answer, according to Defense News.
Now the ship is apparently stuck while its staff finishes their training — and, some hint, because of more defects the original long overhaul missed.
The US has not left the region entirely, of course. Officials told Fox a large Navy assault ship staffed by thousands remains in the region, as do US jets and helicopters.
The USS Eisenhower was used to launch airstrikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria from the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea for much of 2016.