American aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, among the largest warships in the world boasts a reputation for signaling Washington’s power in the Middle East, has been ordered to return home, US Naval Institute News said citing US officials.
The decision was seen as a potential signal to Iran to calm tensions as the newly elected Biden administration makes efforts to open negotiations for a new nuclear agreement.
The aircraft carrier was deployed to the Persian Gulf by former president Trump in November amid rising tensions with Tehran.
The @USNavy will fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows. #ForceToBeReckonedWith
Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and Carrier Air Wing 17 conduct flight operations in the Arabian Sea, Nov. 27. pic.twitter.com/EECbQXvW0d
— U.S. 5th Fleet (@US5thFleet) November 28, 2020
Biden’s newly appointed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the carrier as well as its 5,000 sailors and strike-force marines to come home following a deployment of over 240 days.
During its deployment, the ‘Nimitz’ was tasked with providing air cover during the troop withdrawals in Afghanistan, overseeing exercises and operations to solidify US Indo-Pacific Command and US Central Command areas of responsibility, according to the Pentagon. It was also deployed for the purpose of missions in Somalia executing air strikes on extremists in the country. The carrier was also involved in training the Indian Navy’s 7th Fleet.
US Naval Institute News says that the USS Nimitz was operating within the US 7th Fleet off the coast of west India when it received instructions to return home after close to 8 months at sea.
In November 2020, the Nimitz was ordered to stay in the area of US Central Command after threats from Tehran on the anniversary of the killing of the IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani.