- The Abraham Lincoln and John C. Stennis carrier strike groups are conducting dual carrier operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
- It's the first time since 2016 that two carriers have operated in the region simultaneously.
- The combined carrier operations are clearly intended to send an unmistakable message to Russia, which has expanded its military presence in the area over the past few years.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The US Navy deployed two carrier strike groups to the Mediterranean Sea to send an unmistakable message to Russia.
The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln and USS John C. Stennis and their escort ships began dual carrier operations in the region on Tuesday, the US Navy said in a statement. The combined force includes more than 130 aircraft, 10 ships, and 9,000 sailors and Marines, the Navy said, a force that no other power has the ability to bring together.
In addition to the carrier, a strike group typically includes a guided-missile cruiser, two to three guided-missile destroyers, an attack submarine, and a supply ship.
The last time two carriers operated in the region simultaneously was 2016, when the Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman carrier strike groups were deployed to the Mediterranean.
Current operations are being conducted alongside allies and partners in the region.
"In the era of great power competition, particularly in the maritime domain, one carrier strike group provides tremendous operational flexibility and agility," said Adm. James Foggo III, the head of US Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Allied Joint Force Command Naples.
"Two carrier strike groups operating simultaneously, while also integrating and advancing interoperability with our highly capable NATO allies and partners, provides an unprecedented deterrent against unilateral aggression, as well as combined lethality," he added. "It also should leave no doubt to our nations' shared commitment to security and stability in the region."
Standing on the bridge of the Lincoln, he told CNN that "we are not going to be deterred by any potential adversary, and we are going to support our interests as Americans and also those of our allies as we steam throughout the world."
Russia has steadily expanded its military presence in the Mediterranean since 2015, when the Russian military joined forces with Damascus in Syria.
Jon Huntsman, the US ambassador to Russia, said that the carriers, each of which represents "100,000 tons of international diplomacy," are intended to send a message.
"Diplomatic communication and dialogue coupled with the strong defense these ships provide demonstrate to Russia that if it truly seeks better relations with the United States, it must cease its destabilizing activities around the world," he said.
He told CNN: "When you have 200,000 tons of diplomacy that is cruising in the Mediterranean — this is what I call diplomacy, this is forward-deployed diplomacy — nothing else needs to be said. You have all the confidence you need when you sit down and you try to find solutions to the problems that have divided us now for many, many years."
Russian media accused the US military and ambassador of unnecessary "saber-rattling" near Russia's "doorstep."