US carrier strike group heading for Europe – media
A US carrier strike group, led by new supercarrier USS Gerald Ford, is expected to anchor near Portsmouth in southern England in mid-November, the UK Defense Journal reported on Sunday.
The exact date of the flotilla’s arrival, which includes seven other warships, has not been announced publicly, the outlet noted. Releasing such data now “might not be the best idea from a security point of view,” it added.
Some of the American vessels will dock at the Royal Navy’s Portsmouth naval base, while the USS Gerald Ford will have to anchor outside, at the roadstead in the Spithead area, due to its size, according to the outlet.
The 333-meter carrier reportedly hosts some 90 planes and helicopters, including fifth-generation F-35C fighter-bombers.
The USS Gerald Ford, commissioned by the US Navy in 2017, is the first ship of the similarly named Ford class, and is the largest aircraft carrier in the world.
It began its maiden ‘service-retained’ deployment on October 4, departing from Norfolk, Virginia. The vessel visited its first international port on Friday, arriving in Halifax, Canada.
According to the US Navy, the USS Gerald Ford has been conducting multinational maritime exercises in the Atlantic Ocean with such NATO allies as Canada, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany.
After leaving Halifax, the supercarrier is set to continue “conducting training and operations alongside NATO Allies and partners to enhance integration for future operations and demonstrate the US Navy’s commitment to a peaceful, stable and conflict-free Atlantic region,” it added.
The commander of the carrier strike group, Rear Admiral Greg Huffman, described the deployment as “an opportunity to further advance the operational capabilities of the Ford and demonstrate the advantages that Ford and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 bring to the future of naval aviation, to the region and to our allies and partners.”
If reports of the US flotilla heading to British shores are confirmed, it will become the second American carrier strike group in European waters.
The USS George Bush and its supporting vessels are currently in the Adriatic Sea after taking part in NATO's Neptune Strike defense and deterrence exercise in the Mediterranean between October 14 and 28.
When asked by Sky News if the USS George Bush strike group was prepared to fight Russia if such an order were given by Washington, its commander Rear Admiral Dennis Velez said: “this ship, this strike group, our allies: we are ready for anything. We demonstrate that every day.”