USS Bataan (LHD-5) and USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) are in the Mediterranean Sea, having crossed through the Strait of Gibraltar Wednesday.
Bataan, along with Carter Hall and elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is being dispatched to U.S. Central Command as part of the U.S. response to Iran’s continued seizure of commercial vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.
From the Mediterranean Sea, Bataan and Carter Hall will transit the Suez Canal and into the Red Sea.
Destroyers USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60) and USS McFaul (DDG-74), which are part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, are already in the region as part of the U.S. response.
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is operating in the Ionian Sea, as of Monday. The Ford Strike Group was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea region as part of the ongoing U.S. response to the Russo-Ukraine War.
Bataan and Carter Hall, along with USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19), deployed on July 10, USNI News previously reported.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s orders to send Bataan and Carter Hall to the Middle East came 10 days into the deployment.
Austin’s orders came days after Iranian forces attempted to seize two commercial ships on July 5. In one of the attempted seizures, Iranian corvette IRINS Bayandor (81) fired on commercial tanker Richard Voyager while attempting to take it in the Gulf of Oman, USNI News reported.
Iranian forces have attempted to seize 20 merchant vessels since 2021.
The arrival of Bataan and Carter Hall in U.S. Central Command will be the largest footprint in the Middle East following the country’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
USS Essex (LHD-2) was the last U.S. warship in the Middle East, departing in 2022. USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) was the last aircraft carrier in the region.