Up till now nations have been sending escorts; not even Britain has sent one of the Royal Navy’s carriers to support the operations against the pirates, and there is a reason for this. Whilst sending regular naval frigates or destroyers to assist the efforts at combating pirates within region, as Europe, Russia, India and China have done, is good for showing the flag and protecting specific vessels or very narrowly defined sea lanes; as well as being relatively cheap. However, you need the AEW system, that can be provided only through a Carrier Air Group (CAG) and therefore a carriers presence to improve the slim odds of being able locate and interdict the pirates when they are at sea; although the idea that such a vessel will allow piracy to be eliminated is preposterous, purely from the point of view that attacks on Somali ports are not allowed, and you will not get rid of the pirates until you provide Somalia with the sea security it desires (from illegal dumping and fishing), and the people of Somalia with a better source of income. However, it is true that before these changes come about, the only vessels that can really enable a naval commander to interdict the pirates effectively is an aircraft carrier. It is even more true to say, that as so often usual the American nuclear-powered ones are actually much easier to deploy and much more effective for the job than smaller, conventionally powered ones such as the Royal Navy’s Invincible class or even the projected larger but still conventionally powered Queen Elizabeth IIs.
The most obvious, and the coincidentally the most pertinent of the reasons for this superiority The obvious reason for this is that American nuclear-powered super carriers, because they are nuclear powered can stay at sea for an infinite period of time without being refuelled. This simple fact vastly reduces the logistical problems of keeping an aircraft carrier operationally active and deployed on station for long periods of time; for example the Eisenhower has been sent to the Gulf for a five-month mission, and has served longer when the situation required it. The other thing they have is a far higher operating speed and tempo, they are capable of maintaining a constant speed of 30-33kts over infinite range; almost double that of the Invincible, which is 19kts for 7000nm (maximum speed is 28kts). It is also far cheaper, over a lifetime of 40 years a nuclear powered carrier will cost less in fuel and engine costs than two Daring Class Destroyers will (sums based on my own bad maths – I did A Level, and official figures) or the Queen Elizabeth IIs which will only have maximum speed of 26kts (less than the Invincible class) and its range and cruising speed are yet to be announced. I also used the word Tempo, and the reason the super carriers have a better tempo than others is that their nuclear power produces not only enough steam to power catapults allowing larger aircraft with more useful payloads to be launched, but also enough energy allowing the future magnetic based catapults to work; all these things cannot be done by a gas powered vessel because it does not create steam or enough energy (unless you really want to ramp up the expense by adding in special plants).
The American carriers also have the advantage that because they are much larger than most of the conventional carriers employed by the remainder of the world’s aircraft carrier operating navies; they can carry a far larger and more formidable complement of aircraft including the E2C Hawkeye. This combined with a far larger air group; which has a far larger space to operate from allows them to patrol far larger areas of sea at the same time as maintain capability launch fast interdictions with potent forces more often and easily than their equivalent conventional cousins.
So all in all, it is the correct thing for this vessel and her attendant group to be deployed; it is also very difficult to see how under peacetime circumstances other nations, with conventional powered vessels which cost so much more for the value they provide on operations, would manage to match this deployment. In the therefore one rule shines through; if a nation is going to maintain a navy with true power projection capabilities, then the nation need to build nuclear aircraft carriers of a decent size and air group, and most importantly that nation needs to build three; for after all what is the point of going to the expenditure of build carriers if the nation the does not have enough of them to guarantee the capability. If any of those criteria are not met then the nation is crippled by false economies, enforced by those who do not understand the true requirements and even truer benefits of sea power.
The UAVs you speak of quite correctly are maxed out in other theatres, and whilst they do provide a lot of information very far from all American ships (let alone their allies) have been fitted with terminals to directly recive information from them.
Most importantly the supercarrier is actually more easy to absorb the burden economically than foreign bases, as building them in your own yards, maintaining them there keeps the money largely within your own economy; and often have very positive affects on technology and manufacturing sectors. Whereas the foreign bases you are highlighting are nothing but finacial drains which just take money out of the economy, whether in overseas pay for personal, renting the facilities, the extended logistics supply, and upgrading facilities which might in the end be denied to you when you need them because of that countries domestic policys (Kazakstan is a good example of this).
Finnaly I will reiterate a point I made above, which I think has got lost in the weight of other information; "However, you need the AEW system, that can be provided only through a Carrier Air Group (CAG) and therefore a carriers presence to improve the slim odds of being able locate and interdict the pirates when they are at sea; although the idea that such a vessel will allow piracy to be eliminated is preposterous, purely from the point of view that attacks on Somali ports are not allowed, and you will not get rid of the pirates until you provide Somalia with the sea security it desires (from illegal dumping and fishing), and the people of Somalia with a better source of income. However, it is true that before these changes come about, the only vessels that can really enable a naval commander to interdict the pirates effectively is an aircraft carrier
The carrier group helps, because it is the ultimate in sea control and wide area monitoring. However, possibly its biggest assistance is as a political statement of commitment.