U.S. defense officials may position a second military aircraft carrier near Israel to prevent surrounding nations from joining Hamas‘ full-scale war against Israel, where an unknown number of Americans are held hostage among more than 20 others missing.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the Pentagon is considering staging the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower near Israel months after officials initially scheduled the carrier for a two-week voyage with its accompanying ships to the Middle East.
Positioning the 5-star aircraft carrier near Israel would signal a show of strength to the hostile area by providing a wide range of flexible mission capabilities, including logistical support, humanitarian assistance, and counter-terrorism operations, according to the Navy’s website.
“Often the presence of an aircraft carrier has deterred potential adversaries from striking against U.S. interests,” the Navy said on its website. “Aircraft carriers support and operate aircraft that engage in attacks on airborne, afloat and ashore targets that threaten free use of the sea and engage in sustained power projection operations in support of U.S. and coalition forces.”
The potential move comes after U.S. Military officials deployed the USS Gerald Ford — one of the largest warships ever built — to the eastern Mediterranean Sea as a show of support for Israel after Hamas murdered more than 1,000 Israelis and other foreign nationals, including at least 14 U.S. citizens, over the weekend.
“We will have more assistance to announce over the coming days to ensure that no enemies of Israel believe that they can or should try to seek advantage from the current situation,” U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said during a virtual press conference on Monday.
The Ford, which reportedly holds approximately 5,000 sailors and over 75 warplanes, is one of the Navy’s newest, most advanced ships, designed to respond to anything — from conducting surveillance to war fighting capabilities. Its Carrier Strike Group to the eastern Mediterranean Sea also included guided missile cruisers, destroyers, and several U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft squadrons in the region.
U.S. Central Command General Michael “Erik” Kurilla confirmed its arrival in the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday.
“The arrival of these highly capable forces to the region is a strong signal of deterrence should any actor hostile to Israel consider trying to take advantage of this situation,” Kurilla said in a news release.
Defense officials told the Journal that the Pentagon is considering replacing the Ford with the Eisenhower or keeping both groups close to the coast of Israel and the Gaza Strip.
If both ships remain together, it would mark the first time the two carriers were deployed in the area since March 2020, after rocket attacks aimed at Camp Taji in Iraq killed two American troops and one British soldier.
President Joe Biden also announced on Tuesday the U.S. would send additional equipment to the Israel Defense Forces, including interceptor missiles for Israel’s Iron Dome system.