In mid-November 2022, a US Navy aircraft carrier strike group led by the world’s most advanced supercarrier and most powerful ship, the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), will arrive in Great Britain. The location of the group will be Portsmouth (Great Britain) in the English Channel. This is Gerald R. Ford‘s first combat deployment and the first deployment of two carrier strike groups to Europe since the Cold War. The second group, led by the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77), is currently deployed in the Mediterranean.
The strike group led by Gerald R. Ford includes:
- USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) aircraft carrier with CVW-8 8th Air Wing (main aircraft – F/A-18) – 75 aircraft;
- Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60);
- Arleigh Burke-class destroyers: USS Ramage (DDG-61), USS McFaul (DDG-74), USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116).
US Navy aircraft carrier strike groups usually include nuclear-powered attack submarines, but their numbers and names are not publicly announced.
Note that both the cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60) and the destroyers of the Arleigh Burke class are armed with anti-aircraft guided missiles RIM-174 Standard ERAM and RIM-161 Standard Missile 3. The latter can intercept even ballistic missiles in space – the range of the SM-3 is 1 200 km at a target altitude of 900 – 1,050 km.
While crossing the Atlantic, the carrier strike group conducted maneuvers involving ships from nine different countries, including Canada, France, Germany and Spain. In total, up to 20 ships and 60 aircraft were involved.
The future plans of the Gerald R. Ford group have not been disclosed, but its location in Portsmouth makes it easy to reach the North Sea, North Atlantic or Baltic, and the weapons allow it to threaten targets on the territory of Russia and Belarus.
At the same time, it should be noted that this is actually the second aviation strike group that will be publicly located in Europe. In particular, the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) is currently deployed in the Mediterranean Sea. The United States do not particularly hide that the deployment of the second strike group of the US Navy is directed specifically against the Russian Federation and related to the latest threats to use nuclear weapons.
Interesting fact. During maneuvers in the Atlantic, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) unfurled her battle flag for the first time, which appeared to be… yellow-blue.
As with most Navy battle flags, the colors and symbols chosen for the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) flag honor the ship’s namesake, President Gerald R. Ford. The primary color scheme is yellow and blue, with the yellow representing the corn and the 38th president’s years at the University of Michigan, and the blue, along with the nautical compass, not only marking Ford’s time in the Navy during World War II, but “marking him as the only president to receive the rank of Eagle Scout (the highest rank of the Scouting organization of the United States).” In addition, the flag contains the ship’s number and only one word “Victory”, while the official motto of the ship is different – Integrity At The Helm. I wonder what this is alluding to in the US Navy?!