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USS Truman Prepares For ‘High-Stakes’ Red Sea Deployment Amid Houthi Attacks

James King, MPA
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The USS Harry S. Truman, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is gearing up for a critical and potentially dangerous mission in the Red Sea, where U.S. forces have been engaged in near-daily battles against drones and missiles launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen. The carrier and its 6,000 sailors have been undergoing intensive training in the western Atlantic Ocean in preparation for this rare, pre-planned deployment into a hostile environment.

In recent weeks, the Truman’s pilots have been conducting flight deck testing, knowing that they will be tasked with shooting down drones and munitions launched by the Houthis later this year. Adm. Daryl Caudle, leader of U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Command, emphasized the importance of the training, stating, “They know that they’re most likely going to be entering a weapon engagement zone. … For this group, this [deployment] is not with the mindset that they’re just going to go drill holes in the water somewhere — this is, ‘We’re going to be employed for combat.’”

The Truman’s deployment comes as the U.S.-led Operation Prosperity Guardian, aimed at ensuring freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, has faced criticism for its inability to effectively counter the Houthi threat. Despite the efforts of U.S. warships patrolling the waters off Yemen, which have shot down numerous drones and missiles, the Houthis remain undeterred.


The Navy is incorporating lessons learned from the ongoing mission of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower strike group, which the Truman is set to replace. These lessons include strategies for ship positioning, radar system tuning, and decision-making processes for engaging incoming threats.

As the Truman completes its pre-deployment training, its sailors are preparing to face similar challenges to those encountered by the Eisenhower strike group. Rear Adm. Fred Pyle, the Navy’s surface warfare director, described the current situation as the most volatile that deployed Navy sailors have faced since World War II.

The Truman will bring an array of aircraft, including F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, E-2D Hawkeye command and control aircraft, E/A18 Growler electronic warfare jets, and MH-60 Seahawk helicopters, to support its mission in the Red Sea. While the carrier’s presence will serve as a significant show of force, it also presents a larger target for Houthi attacks.

As the U.S. continues to expend billions in response to the spillover from the Gaza conflict, the Truman’s deployment underscores the high stakes and challenges faced by American forces in the region.