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The Navy Just Sent Its Most Powerful Aircraft Carrier To Russia’s Military Backyard

There are probably worse ways to spend a summer than on a cruise in the Mediterranean — even if that happens to be on board the U.S. Navy’s largest warship.

It wasn’t exactly a working vacation by any means for the sailors, Marines, aviators, and other personnel on the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), which has been operating in the waters since mid-June.

It has been a notable deployment for the vessel.

The flagship of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group was spotted passing through the Strait of Gibraltar on June 15. Its arrival marked the return of a U.S. carrier to the Mediterranean after a brief absence. The U.S. Navy maintained a carrier presence in the region from December 2021 to April 2023 as part of its response to the Russo-Ukraine War. This latest sailing was another deterrence patrol aimed at Russia again.

221013-N-LK647-1031 ATLANTIC OCEAN—A view of the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) from aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) as Normandy participates in a Tactical Force Exercise as part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, Oct. 13, 2022. Ford is on its inaugural deployment conducting training and operations alongside NATO Allies and partners to enhance integration for future operations and demonstrate the U.S. Navy’s commitment to a peaceful, stable and conflict-free Atlantic region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Malachi Lakey)

The USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) departed the Mediterranean in April after spending 230 days in the waters. She returned home to Norfolk after an eight-month deployment. CVN-77 had relieved the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, which had spent nine months on patrol in the region.

Ford Summered in the Mediterranean

The USS Gerald R. Ford deployed with the rest of the strike group in May for its first worldwide deployment. During its month traveling to the Mediterranean, the nuclear-powered supercarrier made a port call in Oslo, Norway. It went under NATO command while sailing in the Arctic Circle. Indeed, Russia was watching closely.

“Our presence at sea throughout the deployment will provide reassurance to our allies and partners that sea lanes will remain open, and our joint operations will demonstrate our commitment to interoperability and maritime stability,” Rear Adm. Greg Huffman, commander of Carrier Strike Group 12, said in a statement in June.

The carrier recently took part in joint training operations with the Hellenic Navy and made a scheduled port visit last month to the Greek capital of Athens.

The Largest RAS for the Largest Carrier

The crew probably had a chance to sample moussaka, saganaki, and souvlaki while in Greece, as well as some time to see the sights and pick up some souvenirs. Meanwhile, the world’s largest aircraft carrier recently received could be described as the largest delivery of goods in the U.S. Navy.

On Aug. 17, the Gerald R. Ford successfully completed its largest replenishment at sea (RAS) with dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Medgar Evars.

The U.S. Navy reported that during the RAS, the carrier received 144 pallets of mail, 161 pallets of general stock, 297 pallets of provisions, and 17 pallets of store merchandise.

“Receiving supplies while we operate at sea ensures that our crew can continually execute the mission,” said Lt. Cmdr. Wanda Colon, the Gerald R. Ford’s principal assistant for services. “Not only are we receiving mail, but we are also restocking our food stores, and more importantly any material parts that are needed. RAS days are long, but they truly show that our crew comes together contributing with working parties on the flight deck, in the hangar bay, and below decks.”

As a reminder that the deployment is no vacation, sailors assigned to the carrier’s deck department helped receive 116 pallets via connected replenishment, while the Tridents of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 9 simultaneously helped transport the remaining 505 pallets via vertical replenishment. A 250-man working party made up of sailors from each department was formed to help move stores as they were received onboard.