The aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, top, and USS Harry S. Truman transit the Arabian Sea Tuesday. Photo by Keith Simmons/U.S. Navy
March 19 (UPI) -- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Harry S. Truman began operations with a B-52 bomber in the Arabian Sea this week, the Navy announced on Thursday.
The two vessels began dual carrier strike group and joint air wing operations on Wednesday to "ensure the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce, as well as provide the combatant commander significant striking power for contingency operations," according to a Navy press release.
"While we continue to take active steps to prevent and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 across the Middle East, Naval Forces operating in the region have suffered no impacts to readiness. We remain ready and focused to respond forcefully and decisively to any aggression," said Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. "Our two carrier strike groups have been laser-focused on readiness to defeat any threats to security in the region; planning and training specifically against potential threats since June of 2019. While we do not and will not seek conflict at sea, we have never been better postured and more thoroughly prepared to response to it with overwhelming force."
The Middle East continues to be hard hit by the novel coronavirus, with Iran reporting 1,000 deaths to the virus so far -- outstripped only by China and Italy in terms of fatalities.
Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has blamed U.S. foreign policy for the deaths, saying sanctions starving the country of oil funds "literally kill innocents."
The strike group of ships and planes led by the aircraft carrier USS Truman deployed to the Atlantic in December, with the ultimate aim of joining the USS Abraham Lincoln strike group in the Persian Gulf.
The Eisenhower and the ships and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group 10 left for deployment in February after successfully completing the Composite Unit Training Exercise, or COMPTUEX, along with several allied forces.