PHOTO: World’s largest aircraft carrier arrives home, completing first deployment

US Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) returned to its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk, on January 17, following an 8-month deployment.

Photo: US Navy

The carrier visited ports in Croatia, Greece, Italy, Norway and Türkiye. Other ships in the strike group visited Belgium, Cyprus, Montenegro, Spain, and Sweden.

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While in the Mediterranean, the carrier strike group participated in and supported numerous multinational exercises and vigilance activities to increase NATO capability and deter aggression in the region. 

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The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) was extended 76 days following the outbreak of conflict in Israel and operated in the Mediterranean Sea to deter further escalation and support Israel in its right to self-defense. Two of the strike group’s ships, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS McFaul (DDG 74) and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security objectives.

In total, the GRFCSG worked with 17 nations throughout its deployment during exercises Baltic Operations, Air Defender, Bomber Task Force Viking Trident, Neptune Strike, and Sage Wolverine. The strike group operated with Standing NATO Maritime Groups 1 and 2, conducted dual-carrier operations with USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), and exercised with navies from France, Greece, Norway, Türkiye and the United Kingdom.

According to the US Navy, the ship’s crew conducted 43 underway replenishments, logged more than 17,826 flight hours and 10,396 sorties, sailed more than 83,476 nautical miles, and safely transferred 20.7 million gallons of fuel.

In addition to the carrier, the GRFCSG consists of CSG 12 staff, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 staff and units, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60). In total, the GRFCSG deploys with more than 5,000 Sailors across all platforms ready to respond globally to combatant commander’s tasking.