According to US authorities, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier and one other vessel to remain in the Mediterranean Sea for several weeks to maintain a two-carrier presence near Israel as its fight with Hamas continues.
It would be the third extension of the Ford’s deployment, highlighting the region’s ongoing volatility during Israel’s conflict in Gaza. The United States has two aircraft carriers in the region, which has been increasingly rare in recent years.
Multiple US officials confirmed the lengthier deployments for the Ford and the USS Normandy cruisers this week on the condition of anonymity because they have not yet been made public. The deployments of other ships in the Ford’s attack group had previously been extended.
Following Hamas’ Oct. 7 strikes, the Pentagon increased its military presence in the region in order to discourage Iran from turning the fight into a regional battle. In the months since, Iranian-backed militants in Iraq and Syria have used the conflict to launch regular rocket, drone, and missile assaults on US military positions.