US Navy carrier transits Gibraltar, leaves Mediterranean

U.S. Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) transited the Strait of Gibraltar and entered the Atlantic Ocean on July 2.

The ship entered the 6th Fleet area of operations in December 2015 to support maritime security operations and theater security efforts in Europe and Africa.

Among other operations, Harry S. Truman performed strikes against ISIS and reached two operational milestones in the process. The first milestone Truman achieved was the 9,000th arrested landing with the trap of an F/A-18C Super Hornet on June 16, while three days later the ship’s flight deck launched the 2,000th aircraft mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military intervention against the Daesh.

This is the second time Truman has transited the strait; however, this time there are some key differences.

“When we transited the strait on our way out here it was during the night,” said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Giacomo Zach. “They didn’t open up the flight deck to the crew and there wasn’t a whole lot that you could see. This time we had great weather and visibility so you could see Spain, Morocco and the Rock [of Gibraltar].”

Strait transits can be a challenge and demand a lot of attention to detail throughout the entire evolution.

“When the ship’s in open water we can just maneuver around stuff,” said Quartermaster 2nd Class Daniel Searfoss. “In straits we’re locked on course. Every movement we make requires early communication, and any time we have to get off track could create a hazard for us.”

The strait is 7.7 nautical miles wide at its narrowest point with heavy traffic consisting of ferries, merchants and fishing boats from both continents.

“It’s one of the most historic straits in the world,” said Searfoss. “Some of the greatest explorers, like Ferdinand and Columbus, have used this strait in their journeys. I’m honored, as a navigator, to be able to say I’ve gone through it.”

Completing the transit and entering the Atlantic Ocean was a major milestone and one of the final evolutions of this deployment.

“The Strait of Gibraltar was the entrance and exit for this deployment,” said Searfoss. “Making this transit means we are on our way out. The next time any of us see land it will be Norfolk.”

Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is currently on an 8-month deployment to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.