While Hampton Roads-based warships are embroiled in firefights in the Middle East, leaders from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower strike group report from the Red Sea that crew morale is high.
“Despite the tense climate, the crew remains motivated and professional. Morale is high because everyone has mission and purpose,” Capt. Christopher Hill, commanding officer of the Eisenhower, said in an email to The Virginian-Pilot.
The Norfolk-based Eisenhower aircraft carrier and its strike group were deployed to the Red Sea, where merchant vessels and military ships traveling through the Suez Canal have been the target of attack drones and anti-ship missiles launched from Houthi-controlled Yemen. The Houthis, backed by Iran, had previously targeted ships in the region at times, but the attacks have increased since the start of the Oct. 7 Israel-Hamas war, the Associated Press reported.
Missiles have been fired toward U.S. Navy ships, including Norfolk-based destroyer USS Laboon and other ships in Norfolk-based strike groups, according to the U.S. Central Command. In each instance, the missiles were shot down.
Additionally, a number of commercial ships have been struck since December, according to Associated Press reports, resulting in some damage but no deaths. The attacks have forced shipping companies with cargo bound for the East Coast to pivot to a longer, alternate route around Africa's southern-most tip, the Cape of Good Hope, the…