USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group leaves the Middle East

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is sailing out of the waters of the Middle East, after eight months of skirmishes and fights with Houthi militants over the waters around Yemen.

The aircraft carrier and the three ships that make its carrier strike group are now set to head into the European theater before eventually sailing back to the United States, U.S. Central Command confirmed in a statement on X (the Department of Defense also put out a similar statement). 

“Flying over 30,000 hours and sailing over 55,000 miles the IKE CSG demonstrated our commitment to regional stability and protected freedom of navigation throughout the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden,” CENTCOM’s statement said. “The IKE CSG also upheld their commitment to safety of all seafarers, rescuing mariners in distress on several occasions following unprovoked attacks on innocent mariners by Iranian-backed Houthis.”

The carrier strike group had previously had its deployment extended, mostly recently in May. 

The Ike, as it is known, and its carrier strike group including a carrier air wing, was sent to the waters around the Middle East in October, following the Oct. 7 terror attack and the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza War. It was initially sent as a deterrent against “hostile actions” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin noted at the time. However, with the start of Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in an effort to pressure Israel into ending the war, the Ike became heavily involved in maritime security and intercepting attacks on commercial vessels. 

The Houthi movement, a religious and Yemeni nationalist group allied with Iran that controls most of Yemen following its long civil war, has spent more than half a year launching drone and missile attacks at those ships. Along with other Navy ships, the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group shot down those munitions while also targeting Houthi sites in Yemen and participating in multinational bombings missions in the county. 

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The Ike and its fighter wing also helped shoot down several of the drones and missiles fired toward Israel by Iran and its regional partners in April. For its part, the Ike saw some crew members sport “Red Sea Attack of the Drones War” patches this spring. 

The USS Gerald R. Ford and its carrier group, which was also dispatched to the waters around the Middle East in October after the start of the Israel-Gaza War, wrapped up its deployment in January. 

In the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group’s place, the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is moving to the Red Sea from the Pacific theater. The new strike group will “enhance CENTCOM’s ability to deter aggression, safeguard regional stability, and protect freedom of navigation in the region,” according to CENTCOM.

Despite months of successful interception operations and dozens of targeted strikes on Houthi launch by the Ike and its support ships, as well as several widespread air strikes on cities in Yemen, attacks on shipping vessels haven’t ended. In fact, a second merchant vessel was sunk this month, following the first complete sinking of a ship in March. Another ship was damaged in a Houthi attack. 

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Nicholas Slayton

Contributing Editor

Nicholas Slayton is a Contributing Editor for Task & Purpose. In addition to covering breaking news, he writes about history, shipwrecks, and the military’s hunt for unidentified anomalous phenomenon (formerly known as UFOs). He currently runs the Task & Purpose West Coast Bureau from Los Angeles.