5 Aircraft Carriers Set to Operate Together in Europe for NATO Exercise

U.S. aircraft carriers USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) and USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) will exercise with aircraft carriers from France, Italy and the United Kingdom as part of a joint operation across Europe meant to show NATO interoperability, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

The two American carrier strike groups, their embarked air wings and escorts will be operating in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Sea and Mediterranean Sea along with the U.K. Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), Italian carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550) and the French FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91), Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, told reporters Thursday.

“These operations present an opportunity for allied nations to coordinate critical combat power throughout the Euro-Atlantic area while showcasing NATO cohesion and interoperability,” Singh said. “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.”

Singh referred questions about the joint operations to U.S. European Command.

The George H.W. Bush CSG has been operating in the Mediterranean since August when it replaced the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group. Bush and USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) operated together briefly before Truman returned home to Norfolk, Va., the first time two U.S. aircraft carriers were in the Mediterranean together in several years. During its deployment, Truman exercised with Charles de Gaulle and Cavour.

As of Thursday afternoon, Ford was off Portsmouth, England, according to local ship spotters.

Charles de Gaulle departed France on Nov. 15 as part of Mission Antares, according to a French news release. The mission includes 3,000 service members from France and partners.

As part of Mission Antares, the French carrier will operate with ships from the Hellenic, Italian and American navies, according to the release.

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