USS George H.W. Bush Deployment Extended; Return Of More Than 5,000 Sailors Delayed

U.S. aircraft carrier, USS George H. W. Bush.
A soldier walks on the dock of the U.S. aircraft carrier, USS George H. W. Bush, as it docks at the Haifa port, Israel Monday, July 3, 2017. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool photo via AP)

The USS George Bush’s deployment has been extended following a series of Iranian attacks in Syria.

The extended deployment means the return of more than 5,000 Norfolk-based sailors won’t happen as scheduled.

“Last week, the Department of Defense ordered the U.S. Navy’s George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group be postured to bolster the capabilities of CENTCOM ( U.S. Central Command) in the Middle East,” said Col. Joe Buccino, spokesperson for U.S. Central Command, in a statement emailed Monday to The Virginian-Pilot.

The deployment was extended after a series of attacks in Syria over the past two weeks. On March 23, an Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle struck a maintenance facility on a Coalition base near Hasakah, Syria, killing a U.S. contractor and injuring five U.S. service members and one additional contractor. On March 31, Syrian Democratic Forces killed two ISIS suicide bombers in Hasakah, Syria. The suicide bombers were ambushed and killed before they were able to detonate their explosives.

In response, U.S. Central Command released a statement via Twitter: “U.S. forces and Syrian Democratic Forces are exploiting the information from the explosives and material for follow-on raids against ISIS. CENTCOM is committed to the enduring defeat of ISIS alongside our partners in Iraq and Syria.”

News of the Bush’s extension was first reported Friday by Reuters, nearly eight months since Bush sailors moved the flagship’s American flag from the fantail to the mast. The carrier will be supported by guided-missile destroyer USS Delbert D. Black and guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, which departed around Aug. 10, 2022, alongside the Bush from Naval Station Norfolk for a scheduled deployment.

The USNS Arctic, a Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship, will provide additional support to the Bush strike group, and the DoD also expedited the scheduled deployment of an A-10 fighter squadron to the region.

“Collectively, these actions demonstrate the United States’ ability to rapidly reposition forces across the globe and underscores that all necessary measures will be taken to defend U.S. forces. We are committed to supporting the defeat- ISIS mission alongside a global coalition in Syria and are prepared to respond to a range of contingencies in the Middle East if needed,” Buccino said.

During this extension, Buccino confirmed the Bush strike group will be under the U.S. European Command, which includes the Baltic and Mediterranean seas. According to Marine Vessel Traffic, three days the Bush was reportedly in the Ionian Sea, off the coast of Italy, heading south to the Mediterranean Sea.

It is unclear how long the Bush’s return will be delayed.

Caitlyn Burchett,

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