For the next week, not only will there be no U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in the Middle East, but there will be no American aircraft carriers deployed at sea anywhere else in the world. Despite a host of worldwide threats facing the United States. The carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and her strike group returned to Norfolk, Va. Friday following a seven-month deployment. The Ike launched hundreds of airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria from both the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf.
While there is no U.S. aircraft carrier in the Middle East right now, there is a large deck U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship with thousands of Marines on board as well as helicopters and some jets to respond to a crisis, according to officials. In the meantime, the U.S. military has other jets available to make up for the aircraft carrier gap in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. The Navy can also “surge” a carrier now in port to deploy if necessary. But the absence of a deployed U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, long seen as a symbol of American power projection, is noteworthy. It is believed to be the first time since World War II that at least one U.S. aircraft carrier has not been deployed.
“We are not going to discuss the timing of operational movements of carrier strike groups into and out of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility,” said Capt. Terry Shannon, a U.S. Naval Forces Central Command spokesman. Centcom is tasked with control over all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan. It’s not the first time there was a carrier gap in the Middle East. Last fall, the U.S. Navy relied on a French aircraft carrier to fill the void when the USS Theodore Roosevelt returned home. At the time it was the first gap in carrier coverage in the Middle East since 2007.