Biden orders USS Nimitz aircraft carrier home in possible signal to Iran

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin instructed the carrier and and the 5,000 sailors and Marines of its strike group to return home after being deployed for over 240 days.

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter conducts flight control checks on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Indian Ocean November 25, 2020. Picture taken November 25, 2020 (photo credit: U.S. NAVY/MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 3RD CLASS ELLIOT SCHAUDT/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter conducts flight control checks on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Indian Ocean November 25, 2020. Picture taken November 25, 2020
(photo credit: U.S. NAVY/MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 3RD CLASS ELLIOT SCHAUDT/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
The United States aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, known for anchoring US power in the Middle East, has been ordered back home, US Naval Institute News said citing American officials.
The move was seen as a possible signal to Iran to deescalate tensions amid efforts by the Biden administration to open negotiations on a new nuclear deal. 
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin instructed the carrier and the 5,000 sailors and Marines of its strike group to return home after being deployed for over 240 days.
Over the course of its deployment, the USS Nimitz was responsible for providing air cover during the troop drawbacks in Afghanistan, running operations and exercises to strengthen US Central Command and US Indo-Pacific Command areas of responsibility, according to the Pentagon. It has also conducted brief missions in Somalia carrying out air raids on extremists in the country and it was involved in training the Indian Navy's 7th Fleet.
The Nimitz is 100,000 tons of power. Laid down in 1968, it is one of the largest American warships. It is one of 10 similar ships in its class: the Eisenhower, Vinson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Washington, Stennis, Truman, Reagan and Bush.
US Naval Institute News says that the Nimitz was operating within the US 7th Fleet off the coast of west India when it got the order to go home after nearly eight months on the water.
Just prior to the beginning of the year, the Nimitz was ordered to come "directly" home by the acting US Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller. Ninety-six hours later, the carrier got another order to “halt its routine redeployment” and remain in the area of US Central Command following threats from Tehran on the anniversary of the killing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Qasem Soleimani.
The regiment deployed in June, but has been away from their families since April, following the routine maintenance period and two-week lockdown to prevent coronavirus outbreaks on the ship. The crew should be home by the end of the month.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday noted that the US intends to keep a presence in the region, although it is unclear which carrier strike group will replace the Nimitz. According to US Naval Institute News, two of it's possible would be replacements are currently on other assignments, the USS Eisenhower, which is currently in training to deploy off the east coast, and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group – operating alongside a squadron of Marine F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters – which is currently operating of the coast of Somalia.
A US naval aircraft carrier is a big fist that the US can deploy in case of any problems with Tehran. Iran has been threatening the US with retaliation, putting its IRGC fast boats and rowboat-like navy on alert in the Persian Gulf.
A US aircraft carrier could destroy Iran’s navy in an afternoon if called upon to do so. What worries Washington is militia attacks by Iran’s proxies in Iraq or Yemen, or some kind of attack in the Gulf like the one in 2019 on Saudi Arabia.
Tehran has claimed there are “false flag” plots afoot to bring the US and Iran to war. It’s doubtful the F-18s will get to have one last mission before they return.

Seth J. Frantzman contributed to this report.