The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the first-in-class USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), is set to deploy in a multinational coalition force in the Atlantic region on Oct. 3, the Navy said Sept. 29.
This initial operational deployment will include air, maritime and ground assets from several NATO allies and two soon-to-be members. Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group will sail from Norfolk, Va., and operate in the Atlantic Ocean.
“The USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group will deploy, integrating with Allies and partners, to demonstrate its unmatched, multi-domain, full-spectrum lethality in the Atlantic,” Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said in a statement.
“This trans-Atlantic deployment will strengthen our relationships, capacity, and trust to forge a more peaceful and prosperous world by leveraging the ‘One Atlantic’ Command and Control Concept,” he added.
The other participating countries include Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. The deployment will overall include about 9,000 personnel, 20 ships, and 60 aircraft.
Finland and Sweden are on the path to becoming NATO members in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Senate nearly unanimously voted in favor of ratifying their joining the alliance in August (Defense Daily, Aug. 4).
According to the NATO website in late September, only Turkey and Hungary have not completed the legislative portion of ratifying adding the two new members.
The Navy said the Ford Carrier Strike Group will focus on training for air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, distributed maritime operations, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations.
“This deployment is an opportunity to push the ball further down the field and demonstrate the advantage that Ford and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 bring to the future of naval aviation, to the region and to our Allies and partners,” Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, added.
U.S. participants in this deployment will include the Ford with Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2; Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60); the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS McFaul (DD- 74) and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116); the Henry J. Kaiser-class replenishment oiler USNS Joshua Humpreys (T-AO 188); Lewis and Clark-class cargo ship USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE 5) dry cargo ship; and Legend-class Coast Guard cutter USCGC Hamilton (WHEC 715).
The Navy is specifically calling this a “service-retained deployment,” meaning command and control of the carrier strike group under the commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet Vice Adm. Daniel Dwyer, rather than a combatant commander.
“Our primary goal is to contribute to a peaceful, stable, and conflict-free Atlantic region through the combined naval power of our Allies and partners. The deployment of USS Gerald R. Ford’s carrier strike group is the natural progression of our renewed commitment to the Atlantic,” Dwyer said in a statement.
The Ford will also have most but not all of the aircraft in Carrier Air Wing Eight, due to where the wing is in the Global Force Management process, according to the Navy.
The Ford is planned to later deploy on its first Global Force Management deployment under a regional combatant commander in 2023.
Last April, the Navy revealed CVN-78 achieved initial operational capability in December 2021 (Defense Daily, April 6).
The 11th and final Advanced Weapons Elevator (AWE) was also completed and turned over to the ship’s crew last December, after schedule delays and cost overruns for the ship lasting a decade (Defense Daily, Dec. 23, 2021).
The Ford was built by HII [HII] as the first in a new class of aircraft carriers that integrates 23 new technologies, including the AWE, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear.