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The Norfolk-based USS Eisenhower will remain in the Middle East

Crew of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower conduct deck drill
Department of Defense
Crew of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower conduct deck drill in the Mediterranean Sea.

The aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower, with its crew of nearly 6,000 sailors and aviators, will remain in the Red Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean for now.

The carrier was expected to return home this month, after seven months at sea. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made the decision last week, according to the Associated Press.

USS Eisenhower left Norfolk on October 14, just after the war in Gaza broke out. In April, the carrier was central to an operation to defend Israel against a retaliatory strike from Iran.

In the Red Sea, the carrier fighters’ have conducted at least 50 strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have threatened international shipping.

The carrier and its strike group have shot down a constant barrage of missiles and drones, making it one of the most active deployments since the Vietnam War.

Despite the amount of U.S. force in the region, the Houthis remain active in the region. U.S. Central Command reports the Navy has targeted drones or missiles nearly every day in just the past two weeks.

Along with the Ike, two other Norfolk-based ships - USS Philippine Sea and USS Gravely - will also remain in the region, as does a third destroyer, USS Mason.

This has been a particularly active time for ships homeported in Norfolk.

The carrier USS Ford returned from the Eastern Mediterranean in January.

Eventually, the Norfolk-based carrier USS Truman is expected to depart for the region. The roughly 4,500 sailors and Marines of the Amphibious Ready Group USS Wasp left Hampton Roads Saturday.

Steve joined WHRO in 2023 to cover military and veterans. Steve has extensive experience covering the military and working in public media, most recently at KPBS in San Diego, WYIN in Gary, Indiana and WBEZ in Chicago. In the early 2000s, he embedded with members of the Indiana National Guard in Kuwait and Iraq. Steve reports for NPR’s American Homefront Project, a national public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Steve is also on the board of Military Reporters & Editors.

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