For a first time since 2007, there will be no US Navy aircraft carrier in the Middle East. It should be only for a couple of months.
But it’s not only the Middle East whose waters will be without US Aircraft carriers: For the next week, there will be no US aircraft carriers deployed at sea anywhere else in the world, Fox reports.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its naval escort, 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 lock up in the naval base and is unpromising to depart for its next mission before the end of January, according to Defense News. The gap could last as long as two months but it should not affect US operations in the Middle East.
There was a similar carrier gap in this part of the world last fall, but a French carrier Charles de Gaulle stepped in to fill it. This is probably the first time since World War II that there has not been a single US aircraft carrier deployed anywhere in the world.
The USS George H. W. Bush recently finished a 13-month overhaul in Norfolk, a process that extended months beyond its original end date. US 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 United States has not left the Middle East entirely, of course. At the moment, a large Navy assault ship staffed by thousands remains in the region, as do fighter jets and helicopters. The USS Eisenhower was already used to launch airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria from the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea for much of 2016.