Five NATO aircraft carriers are holding major drills in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea throughout November, the alliance announced earlier this month.
“In the North Atlantic, the USS Gerald R. Ford, the world’s newest and biggest warship, has arrived in the UK following weeks of drills alongside warships from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain,” read a NATO statement. The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is the lead ship of the Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carriers, laid down in 2009 and commissioned in 2017. Four additional Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers are planned to be produced through the mid-2030s. The new line of aircraft carriers is slated to eventually replace the U.S. Navy’s existing Nimitz-class vessels.
“These operations present an opportunity for allied nations to coordinate critical combat power throughout the Euro-Atlantic area while showcasing NATO cohesion and interoperability,” Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters last week, according to USNI News. “It is also an opportunity to test allied cooperation and to practice NATO’s deter and defend concepts across all geographic areas, operational domains and functional areas of the alliance,” Sabrina said.
The USS Gerald R. Ford will be joined by France’s flagship Charles de Gaulle, the British HMS Queen Elizabeth, Italy’s flagship ITS Cavour, and Nimitz-class USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carriers. The exercises, which will also involve “numerous warships” and “thousands of sailors,” will include “anti-submarine and air warfare drills, deck-to-deck aircraft transfers and at-sea resupplying,” noted the NATO statement.
The deployments “demonstrate our ability to project power across the Alliance and to rapidly reinforce Allies,” said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu. In the context of the Ukraine conflict, “these carriers deliver deterrence and they help keep our sea lines of communication open. Our strength sends a clear message that NATO will protect and defend every inch of Allied territory,” Lungescu added.
It was reported earlier this year that NATO is seeking to bolster its force posture on the alliance’s eastern flank in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “I expect leaders will agree to strengthen NATO’s posture in all domains, with major increases to our forces in the eastern part of the alliance: on land, in the air and at sea,” NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in March, according to Politico.
Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest.
Image: Flickr/U.S. Navy.