Nov. 16–The aircraft carrier Harry S. and its strike group left Naval Station Norfolk Monday for a deployment set to start in the Middle East as U.S. and coalition forces increase strikes on Islamic State militants, who have claimed credit for last week’s attacks in Paris.
The is expected to reach the Persian Gulf before the year’s end. The U.S. has been launching air strikes into Iraq and Syria from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf — at least until last month, when the USS Theodore Roosevelt left the area after an extended deployment.
The two-month gap is the first in nearly a decade that the U.S. has had no carrier in the region.
While the departure date was set more than a year ago, it came about six months earlier than first planned. In October 2014, it was announced that the ship would switch deployment cycles with the Norfolk-based USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which required an additional 10 months in the shipyard.
This means the 3,000 sailors aboard the readied the ship for deployment in about half the normal time.
Another 2,000 sailors are attached to the carrier’s flotilla, which includes guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio, and guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley, USS Gravely and USS Gonzalez, the Navy said. Carrier Air Wing 7, with nine squadrons, is also assigned to the group.
The seven-month deployment will also include operations in the waters around Europe and Africa.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage also departed Norfolk Monday for an eight-month deployment in the Middle East. It will be independent of the carrier strike group and will provide ___
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