WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has ordered the Ford carrier strike group to sail to the Eastern Mediterranean to be ready to assist Israel, two U.S. officials said Sunday.
The USS Gerald R. Ford and its approximately 5,000 sailors and deck of warplanes will be accompanied by cruisers and destroyers in a show of force that is meant to be ready to respond to anything, from possibly interdicting additional weapons from reaching Hamas and conducting surveillance.
Hamas launched its unprecedented incursion out of Gaza on Saturday. At least 600 people have reportedly been killed in Israel and more than 300 have been killed in Gaza as Israeli airstrikes pound the territory.
The Norfolk, Virginia-based carrier was already in the Mediterranean. Last week it was conducting naval exercises with Italy in the Ionian Sea. It’s the United States newest and most advanced aircraft carrier and this is its first full deployment.
The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter before the Defense Department’s announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.