Navy sends 6th Fleet flagship to eastern Mediterranean as Gaza war rages

The Navy is sending the USS Mount Whitney, the command-and-control ship for the U.S. 6th Fleet, to the eastern Mediterranean as part of a growing U.S. military presence amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The ship’s home port is in Gaeta, Italy, near the Naples headquarters of the 6th Fleet, which focuses on naval activity in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

“It engages with allies and partners in support of maritime operations, which encompasses naval diplomacy and national efforts to build comprehensive U.S. and allied maritime power,” 6th Fleet officials said in a statement Wednesday.

The Mount Whitney is more than 50 years old but comes equipped with sophisticated communications equipment allowing commanders to manage large-scale military operations.

The Defense Department has steadily increased its presence in the eastern Mediterranean since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel that killed more than 1,400 people, almost all civilians, and the abduction of hundreds of others.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and its support ships are currently in the area and have been extended until further notice.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also ordered the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its support ships to the eastern Mediterranean.

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