Posted 03/30/07 12:09
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON
Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz will sail April 2 to support U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Navy said, amid a spike in tensions over Iran’s seizure of 15 British marines and sailors.
The Nimitz, and its battle group of destroyers and guided-missile cruisers, will relieve the carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, which this week took part in war games exercises in the Gulf with another carrier, John C. Stennis.
The new battle group will be in position by late April, but there will be no overlap with the Eisenhower, and the number of U.S. carriers in the area would stay at two, a navy official said on condition of anonymity.
"If anything, there would be a point where there is only one in the region," the official said, on condition of anonymity.
The Stennis and the Eisenhower wound down their show of force involving 15 warships in the Gulf on March 29.
The two-carrier deployment in the Gulf was the highest level of U.S. naval presence in the gulf since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
The Nimitz will support operations in Iraq, the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan, the Navy said in a press release.
The Stennis had been operating in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea but entered Gulf waters March 27, escorted by the guided-missile cruiser Antietam, the 5th Fleet said.