The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) has left the Mediterranean Sea and is now operating in the Atlantic Ocean, a defense official confirmed to USNI News. This week the carrier, the embarked Carrier Air Wing 1 and some of its escorts passed through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Atlantic after spending several days in port in Marseille, France. “As a matter of longstanding policy, we do not discuss future operations, but I can tell you that the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group will continue to conduct operations in support of our NATO allies, European and African partner nations, coalition partners, and U.S. national security interests,” Cmdr. John Perkins, a spokesman with U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, told USNI News. The move to the Atlantic is arguably a continued expression of two constituent themes in the Pentagon as of late: a return to great power competition outlined in new strategic planning documents, and the direction from Secretary of Defense James Mattis that U.S. forces need to be “strategically predictable and operationally unpredictable.” In terms of great power competition, there is growing evidence that Russia continues to push its newest attack submarines to operate the North Atlantic at a pace not seen since the Cold War, Navy leaders have continued to stress publicly.
“Russian submarines are prowling the Atlantic, testing our defenses, confronting our command of the seas, and preparing the complex underwater battlespace to give them an edge in any future conflict,” current U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa commander Adm. James Foggo wrote in U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings in 2016. “Not only have Russia’s actions and capabilities increased in alarming and confrontational ways, its national-security policy is aimed at challenging the United States and its NATO allies and partners.” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has also alluded to an increased Russian submarine presence in public statements about the need for the Navy to operate differently in a new era.