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NATO carrier exercises continue amid rising tensions with Russia

From right to left, Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75), Italian aircraft carrier ITS Cavour (C 550), and French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R 91) transit the Mediterranean Sea in formation on 6 February. (US Navy)

As tensions continue to rise with Russia, maritime forces from France, Italy, and the US conducted a rare tri-carrier operation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on 6–7 February while conducting naval exercises in the region.

During the exercises, the Harry S Truman carrier strike group (CSG) integrated with the French Charles de Gaulle Task Force 473 and Italian carrier ITS Cavour strike groups for the two-day period. The joint operation included more than 20 ships and at least two submarines, with more than 100 aircraft also being made available from the three carriers.

The Truman CSG has been operating mostly in the eastern Mediterranean Sea for the past several weeks as part of a scheduled deployment in the US Sixth Fleet area of operations. Elements of its strike group include nine squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 1, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Gonzalez, USS Bainbridge, USS Gravely, USS Cole, and USS Jason Dunham, the Royal Norwegian Navy's frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen, and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS San Jacinto.

Ahead of the tri-carrier manouvres, the Truman CSG on 4 February concluded a two-week long NATO-led exercise called β€˜Neptune Strike 22' in the Adriatic Sea, where it operated alongside forces and personnel from 28 allied nations, including the Italian Navy's carrier ITS Cavour and elements of its own respective strike group.

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