The USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), operating in the US 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR) is on its way to the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Yemen, where it will join other US vessels already in the region including the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group. The IWO ARG has been in the area since January, ready to assist in evacuations or other quick reaction operations in Yemen.
The TRCSG has been tasked with closely monitoring a convoy of Iranian cargo ships headed towards Aden, the largest city in Yemen. The fear is that the ships are carrying weapons for the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels intent on toppling the U.S. backed Yemeni government.
If the ships are indeed carrying weapons from Iran as suspected, it would violate several United Nations resolutions and most certainly escalate tensions even further. It also wouldn’t help Iran’s case in the ongoing nuclear negotiations with the US.
The TR is making lots of history with this deployment, on what is slated to be a 9-month around-the-world cruise with a homeport change to San Diego when it gets back around the end of the year. The embarked Air Wing 1 (CVW-1) is making many firsts on this lengthy deployment, as it is the inaugural cruise for the Navy’s new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye with the ‘Tigertails’ of VAW-125, and it is also the first for VAQ-137 ‘Rooks’ since they transitioned to the EA-18G Growler from the EA-6B Prowler.
So far CVW-1 hasn’t joined Operation Decisive Storm, the Saudi-led coalition that has been conducting airstrikes in Yemen against the Houthi rebels. Though Saudi Arabia announced that they would end the month-long aerial campaign in favor of a political and diplomatic resolution they’ve dubbed Operation Restoring Hope, the airstrikes continued as Saudi officials stressed they would continue to use force as long as necessary.
The US has expressed concern not only with the Houthi rebel activity, but the growth of al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Although the US was making great strides in Yemen against AQAP, the group seems to be back on its feet, capturing key infrastructure including a major airport, oil terminal, and sea port.
As Yemen continues to destabilize and the humanitarian crisis escalates, the USS Teddy Roosevelt and its Carrier Strike Group vessels bring a lot of options to the table when it comes to responding to various contingencies.
(Featured Image: MC3 Athony N. Hilkowski, U.S. Navy)