The aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower and its carrier strike group transited the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday and entered the Persian Gulf, after arriving in the waters of the Middle East earlier this month amid heightened tensions in the region stemming from the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The carrier, which departed Norfolk, Virginia, in October for a scheduled deployment, is the first carrier to steam in those waters since the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group operated there in September 2020.

The Ike’s carrier strike group includes the destroyers Mason and Gravely, cruiser Philippine Sea and Carrier Air Wing 3.

On Sunday, the Mason responded to a distress call in the Gulf of Aden from an Israeli-linked commercial vessel. As the destroyer and other allied forces concluded assisting the commercial vessel, “two ballistic missiles were fired from Houthi controlled areas in Yemen toward the general location” of the Mason, CENTCOM said.

The crew of the Liberian-flagged commercial vessel is safe, and neither ship suffered damage or reported injuries.

“Our passage through this important strait and continued presence in the area plays a critical role in maintaining the freedom of navigation that is key to regional security and stability,” Rear Adm. Marc Miguez, commander of Carrier Strike Group 2, said in a statement. “I am incredibly proud of the sustained professionalism of each [Ike Carrier Strike Group] Sailor, especially in evolutions like a strait transit, where detailed planning, precision navigation and the proficiency of our warfighting teams are on full display.”

More than 500 ships transit the Strait of Hormuz on a weekly basis, according to CENTCOM.

The Ike transited the Suez Canal and entered the Red Sea on Nov. 4, after operating in the eastern Mediterranean Sea with U.S. assets including the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group and the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship Mount Whitney.

Although the Eisenhower originally was scheduled to deploy to the European theater this fall, the Pentagon announced on Oct. 21 that its carrier strike group would head to the Middle East just after Navy destroyer Carney intercepted cruise missiles and drones that U.S. officials said were fired by Iran-allied Houthi rebel forces in Yemen. The announcement also came following attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.

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