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Houthi Rebels Claim Missile Attack Against US USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Aircraft Carrier.

According to information published by the Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree on May 31, 2023, in response to the recent U.S. and British airstrikes on Yemeni soil, Yemen's Houthi rebels launched a missile attack against the US aircraft carrier Eisenhower in the Red Sea. The U.S. and British militaries said they launched strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen on Thursday to deter the militant group from further disrupting shipping in the Red Sea. The U.S. Central Command said U.S. and British forces had hit 13 targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.
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The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) transits the Suez Canal on May 5, 2024. (Picture source: U.S. Navy)

The Red Sea crisis began on 19 October 2023, when the Iran-backed Ansar Allah (Houthi movement) in Yemen launched missiles and armed drones at Israel, demanding an end to the invasion of the Gaza Strip. The Houthis have since seized and launched aerial attacks against dozens of merchant and naval vessels in the Red Sea, drawing hundreds of air strikes on missile sites and other targets by US and allied forces. On 14 October 2023, Lloyd Austin directed Dwight D. Eisenhower and her carrier strike group, which includes the cruiser Philippine Sea, and destroyers Laboon, Mason, and Gravely, to the eastern Mediterranean in response to Israel's war with Hamas. This is the second carrier strike group to be sent to the region in response to the conflict, following Gerald R. Ford and her group, which was dispatched only six days earlier.

To respond to the Houthi rebels' attacks, in January 2024, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2722, condemning the Houthi attacks and affirming freedom of navigation. The United States-led Operation Prosperity Guardian was launched to protect Red Sea shipping; the operation has included bombings of Houthi-controlled sites in Yemen and attacks on Houthi vessels in the Red Sea. Since January 12, the US and UK have led coalition missile strikes against the Houthis, while other countries are independently patrolling the waters near Yemen. Dwight D. Eisenhower continued supporting Operation Prosperity Guardian and the 2024 missile strikes in Yemen until April 26, 2024, when she transited the Suez Canal and entered the Eastern Mediterranean. She returned to the Red Sea in May 2024 to resume operations after a port call in Souda Bay, Crete. The Yemeni Supreme Political Council stated it launched an attack on Dwight D. Eisenhower, though American officials denied this, and no evidence has surfaced of such an attack.

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is the flagship for Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2. The flagship of CSG-2 is the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Other units assigned include nine squadrons from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3; Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), USS Monterey (CG 61), and USS Vella Gulf (CG 72); and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mitscher (DDG 57), USS Laboon (DDG 58), USS Mahan (DDG 72), and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 22. Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2 prepares and provides combat-ready maritime forces for on-call surge or scheduled deployed operations to execute the maritime strategy.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) is a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, representing a cornerstone of the United States Navy's power projection capabilities. Its combat prowess is anchored by its ability to carry an air wing of up to 90 aircraft, including F/A-18 Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, and E-2C Hawkeyes, which provide comprehensive air superiority, electronic warfare, and early warning capabilities. The ship's four steam catapults enable the rapid launch of these aircraft, while its arresting gear system ensures safe recoveries. Additionally, the Eisenhower is equipped with advanced radar and sensor systems, such as the AN/SPY-1D(V) radar, which provide extensive situational awareness and target tracking.

Defensively, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is outfitted with a layered defense system that includes the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow and RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles for medium-range threats, and the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) for last-ditch defense against incoming missiles and aircraft. The carrier's integrated combat system, Aegis, coordinates these defensive measures, ensuring robust protection against a variety of threats. The ship's nuclear propulsion allows for virtually unlimited range and endurance, enabling sustained operations without the need for frequent refueling. These capabilities make the Eisenhower a formidable asset, capable of executing a wide array of missions from power projection and maritime security to humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

In the framework of Operation Prosperity Guardian, the mission of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) is to provide a robust maritime security presence in the Mediterranean Sea, aimed at deterring potential adversaries and ensuring the stability and safety of international waters. This involves conducting regular patrols, surveillance operations, and joint exercises with allied naval forces to enhance interoperability and readiness. The Eisenhower's air wing plays a critical role in these operations, offering air cover, reconnaissance, and strike capabilities to support coalition efforts in maintaining freedom of navigation and countering illicit activities such as smuggling and human trafficking.

Additionally, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower serves as a rapid response platform capable of addressing emerging threats and providing humanitarian assistance if necessary. Its presence in the region is a strategic deterrent, signaling the United States' commitment to its allies and to maintaining regional stability. The carrier’s operations under Operation Prosperity Guardian also include supporting ground forces engaged in counter-terrorism missions, offering aerial support, intelligence gathering, and logistical assistance. Through these multifaceted roles, the Eisenhower enhances the operational effectiveness of U.S. and allied forces, contributing to broader security objectives in the Mediterranean and surrounding areas.

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