Advertisement

Photos show the first full deployment of the USS Gerald R. Ford supercarrier, home at last after being sent as a warning to foes

A line of military ships sailing in the sea
Ships from the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group sail in formation in the Mediterranean Sea.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maxwell Orlosky
  • The USS Gerald R. Ford returned to its homeport Wednesday after an extended 8 ½-month deployment.

  • The Ford's first full deployment included supporting Israel after the October 7 Hamas attacks.

  • See moments from the carrier's deployment in photos.

The USS Gerald R. Ford, the world's largest and most advanced aircraft carrier, returned to its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia earlier this week following an extended 8 ½-month deployment, largely in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Pentagon extended the Ford's first full deployment by 76 days in response to the October 7 Hamas attacks in Israel, with the ship and the other warships in its strike group serving in part as a deterrence message.

As that conflict expanded, US naval forces also took up positions to respond to Houthi drone and missile attacks on commercial ships in the waters near Yemen. But the Ford remained in the Mediterranean.

During the ship's 2023 deployment, which lasted 239 days, the aircraft carrier carried out multinational drills and vigilance exercises, conducted flight operations, and stood as a warning to certain actors, such as Iran and Hezbollah.

The following photos show the lead ship of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group during its more than eight months at sea.

Virginia, USA

a fighter jet lands on the flight deck of a military aircraft carrier
An F/A-18E Super Hornet 37 lands on the USS Gerald R. Ford's flight deck.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nolan Pennington

The US Navy first deployed this new $13 billion supercarrier in 2022 — after years of delays and cost overruns that drew significant criticism — for a "short, service-retained deployment" in the Atlantic Ocean. It marked the first time in 40 years a first-in-class carrier had set sail on a maiden deployment.

The 2023 deployment was far more extensive, taking the warship and its crew to more places.

Southwest of Ireland

Two military ships, one with an aircraft on board, are shown at sea
The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford conducts a refueling-at-sea with the USNS Leroy Grumman.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer Newsome

Northwest of Germany

a helicopter lands on the flight deck of a military ship
A German Navy WG13 Lynx lands on the flight deck of the first-in-class USS Gerald R. Ford.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Kolmel

South of Oslo, Norway

sailors aboard a military aircraft carrier man the rails
Sailors on board the flagship USS Gerald R. Ford man the rails while transiting the Oslo fjord for its first port call in Oslo, Norway.US Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian Glunt

During its recent deployment, the Ford anchored off the coast of Oslo, Norway, making it the first American aircraft carrier to visit Norway in 65 years.

The Navy said the visit — the first stop of the deployment — involved training activities and operations "to help reduce maritime risks associated with increased activity in the high north," underscoring NATO's increased focus on the region amid heightened tensions with Russia.

Bodo, Norway

a line of military ships sail in formation
The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group sails in formation with NATO-allied ships during an integrated sailing event in the Norwegian Sea.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Mattingly

Split, Croatia

an aircraft carrier sails off the coast of croatia
The USS Gerald R. Ford arrives in Split, Croatia, for a scheduled port visit.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Mattingly

Southern Adriatic Sea

a side view of a military aircraft carrier
The USS Gerald R. Ford leading the formation during a photo exercise in the Adriatic Sea.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adriones Johnson

Southwest of Peloponnese peninsula

military aircraft board an aircraft carrier are illuminated in red-tinted light
The USS Gerald R. Ford conducts flight operations after sunset.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nolan Pennington

Piraeus, Greece

aircraft are seen on the flight deck of an military aircraft carrier with the coast of greece visible in the horizon
The USS Gerald R. Ford arrives in Piraeus, Greece, for a scheduled port visit.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Maxwell Orlosky

Northern Mediterranean Sea

a helicopter carrying cargo hovers above the flight deck of a military ship
An MH-60S Sea Hawk transports cargo from USNS Medgar Evers to the USS Gerald R. Ford during a replenishment-at-sea.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Aaron Arroyo

The Ford conducted its largest replenishment-at-sea, or RAS, in August, transporting more than 600 pallets of goods from the dry cargo ship the USNS Medgar Evers.

The supercarrier received 144 pallets of mail, 1,651 pallets of general stock, 297 pallets of provisions, and 17 pallets of store merchandise. The Ford also off-loaded 124 pallets of used supplies, outgoing mail, and waste during the RAS.

South and southeast of Rhodes, Greece

US and Turkish naval leaders observe a military aircraft during takeoff from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier
Rear Adm. Erik Eslich and Turkish naval leaders observe flight operations on the USS Gerald R. Ford's flight deck.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer Newsome

Antalya, Turkey

aircraft carriers are seen on the flight deck of a carrier ship with the coast of turkey in the background
The USS Gerald R. Ford arrives in Antalya, Turkey, for a scheduled port visit.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class William Spears

Trieste, Italy

Navy sailors in white uniforms stand with their hands behind their back as they observe as military aircraft carrier anchoring in the background
Sailors on board the USS Ramage stand at parade rest during sea and anchor while the USS Gerald R. Ford anchors off the coast of Trieste, Italy, in the background.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adriones Johnson

East of Sicily, Italy

a photographer aboard a helicopter takes photos of a fleet of military ship from the sky
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Mattingly, assigned to the media department of the USS Gerald R. Ford, takes photos during a photo exercise.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maxwell Orlosky

West and southwest of Cyprus

a sailor in uniform stands on the flight deck of a military aircraft carrier while a helicopter in the background hoists another sailor
A sailor stands security while an MH-60S Sea Hawk conducts hoisting exercises on the USS Gerald R. Ford's flight deck in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maxwell Orlosky

Eastern Mediterranean Sea

a line of military ships sail in formation
Ships from the Gerald R. Ford and Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Groups, the US Sixth Fleet command ship USS Mount Whitney, and the Italian Navy frigates Carlo Margottini and Virginio Fasan sail in formation in the Mediterranean Sea.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Mattingly

Following Hamas' surprise attack in early October, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin extended the schedule of the USS Ford Strike Group, directing the warships to the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea.

The US ultimately extended the deployment twice as the US sent a message. US Central Command said it was there specifically to "deter any actor seeking to escalate the situation or widen this war," referring to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Strike Group later joined the Ford Strike Group in a further show of force in support of Israel, a key US ally in the Middle East.

Souda Bay, Greece

military aircraft are seen on the flight deck of a supercarrier with the coast of Greece in the background
The USS Gerald R. Ford pulls in to Souda Bay, Greece, for a scheduled port visit.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Triniti Lersch

The US uses a naval base located in Souda Bay on the northwest coast of the Greek island of Crete. The base is located in the heart of the eastern Mediterranean, making it a strategically valuable spot in Russia's continued war with Ukraine.

South of Crete

an aircraft carrier and assault ship sail side-by-side
The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan sail side-by-side.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maxwell Orlosky

Virginia, USA

an aircraft supercarrier arrives at its homeport
The USS Gerald R. Ford arrives in Norfolk, Virginia, following its eight ½-month maiden deployment.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Mattingly

Over 239 days at sea and more than 83,476 nautical miles "validated the ability" of the Ford "to perform sustained operations at sea," U.S. Fleet Forces wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The ship's crew conducted 43 RASs and transferred 8,850 pallets of cargo and nearly 21 million gallons of fuel with no mishaps, according to a Navy statement. In the air, the Ford's crew logged more than 17,826 flight hours and flew 10,396 sorties.

The ship's culinary team was hard at work as well in the 8-and-½ months at sea, preparing and serving more than 3 million meals on board — including about 48,000 dozen eggs, 24,000 gallons of milk, 131,000 hamburgers, 367,000 pounds of chicken, and 79,000 chocolate-chip cookies.

"Though extended, we were the right ship at the right time to answer the call, and our Sailors performed admirably," Capt. Rick Burgess, the commanding officer of the Ford, said. "Ford Sailors honored our namesake's legacies of hard work, integrity, and courage."

Read the original article on Business Insider