After launching airstrikes against the terrorist group for the last seven months, the US Navy’s aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean is giving its crew a break. Arriving at the Greek island of Crete, the USS Harry S. Truman’s 5,500 crew members will relax before departing for Norfolk, Virginia.
That is crucial in maintaining the 1,096-foot long ship’s two nuclear reactors and preparing munitions for the fighter jets prior to sorties. Others cook over 18,000 meals per day and maintain the unique standards of life aboard an aircraft carrier.
While the Truman’s mission was extended by one month to "keep pressure" on Daesh, it is expected to arrive in Virginia in mid-July.
Originally stationed in the Persian Gulf, the Truman’s redeployment to the Mediterranean was controversial and seen as a response to Russia’s military operations in Syria. Earlier this month, one US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the ship, one of 19 US aircraft carriers in service around the globe, "provides some needed presence in the Med to check…the Russians."
Rear Adm. Bret Batchelder, the USS Truman’s highest-ranking officer, told reporters that the move was, "a demonstration of capability…for sure."
Still, while the USS Truman, along with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, posed a threat to Daesh terrorists, it was never a concern for the Kremlin, according to experts.
"This is a demonstration of force and it doesn’t pose risks for Russia," military analyst Ivan Konovalov told Radio Sputnik.
"Washington wants to send a message to the electorate to draw attention away from numerous flaws in the US foreign policy."
"The fleet of aircraft carriers is a tool to project power," Dmitry Ofitserov-Belsky, an expert in international affairs at the Russian Higher School of Economics, added.
"The US sends a signal to its allies that it’s ready to wage wars far from its borders. It is very important for Washington since there are doubts in US military power among allies."