The USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group carried out interoperability exercises with the French Navy’s Charles de Gaulle Task Force as well as the Italian Navy’s aircraft carrier, the Cavour.
A statement from the U.S. Navy provided details about the exercise, explaining that the United States, France, and Italy “routinely operate together, fostering a cooperative approach toward regional security and stability.”
The statement added that the recent tri-carrier operations were “an opportunity to bring together three strategic allies to strengthen the combined capabilities with NATO and other allied countries.” In particular, the exercises offered the opportunity to carry out several tactical missions that improved the carrier groups' air defense capabilities and “extended the reach of long-range precision maritime strikes” from carrier aircraft.
The USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is deployed as part of a “scheduled deployment” with the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet, which undertakes operations throughout the maritime areas of Europe and the African continent. Still, the timing of the exercise and the explicit mention of NATO in the Navy’s statement may suggest a clear audience for the message: Russia.
“We are plugged in very closely with our NATO partners who bring tremendous capacity in ships and aircraft. The interoperability we build by doing these exercises ensures maximum capability of our combined maritime forces,” explained Rear Adm. Curt Renshaw, commander of Carrier Strike Group Eight.
Renshaw added that “the capabilities of a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group are made exponentially stronger by operating alongside our allies and partners. Adding the French and Italian carrier teams provides an exciting chance to demonstrate that the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.”
The U.S. Navy’s participation with the French and Italian navies comes at a particularly fraught time for Europe. With war raging along NATO’s eastern flank in Ukraine, millions of refugees pouring into Europe, and the specter of famine hanging over the country, cooperation with the U.S. Navy may be particularly appreciated.
Although Russia has significant naval assets in the Black Sea, the conflict has not seen any major naval battles between Russian and Ukrainian ships. Instead, Russian ships have been used primarily to support forces on the ground and as long-range strike platforms capable of hitting targets deep within Ukraine.
The deployment also sends a message to Moscow: the United States and its European allies are in lockstep, ready to respond to a crisis caused by Moscow if necessary.
Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer with the National Interest. A graduate of UCLA, he also holds a Master of Public Policy and lives in Berlin. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society for both print and radio. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson.
Image: U.S. Navy Flickr.