In a significant boost to US naval capabilities in the region as tensions with Iran continue over its disputed nuclear program, a second carrier has joined the USS Abraham Lincoln in the 5th Fleet area of operations.
The USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and Carrier Strike Group 12 arrived in the region last Tuesday, officials confirmed to Khaleej Times late on Thursday.
The new strike group consists of the USS Enterprise, guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg, guided-missile destroyers USS Nitze, USS Porter and USS James E. Williams.
Commander Amy Derrick-Frost of the US Naval Forces Central Command and 5th Fleet, said it was a routine deployment. “The presence of two aircraft carriers fluctuates based on needs and requirements set by the combatant commander and approved by the Joint Staff and the Secretary of Defense, and ensures the US military has naval and air capabilities to support operations requirements, while adequately meeting other security commitments in the region,” she said.
She added that maritime operations were normal in the region and there was no sign of aggression from the Iranian Navy. “All maritime interactions with Iranian Naval Forces continue to be routine and professional.”
Last month, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, had said that 4 more minesweepers and 4 more minesweeping helicopters would be sent to the Arabian Gulf. Iran had warned earlier this year that it would close the strategic Strait of Hormuz if attacked.
Commander Derrick-Frost said no additional minesweepers were deployed or arrived in the US Fifth Fleet area of operations.
In a report on the US Navy’s official website, Rear Admiral Walter E. Carter, Commander, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, said: “We’ve trained hard since our last deployment to the region making sure that the capabilities we bring remain flexible, adaptable and persistent.”
In the past ten years, there had been three periods of additional aircraft carrier presence within the US Central Command area as part of an increased military presence, said Commander Derrick-Frost. In March 2003 two carrier strike groups operated in the region simultaneously in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In February 2007, USS John C. Stennis joined USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to continue support to operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
In June 2010, aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman arrived to relieve USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
This will be the final deployment for the Enterprise, America’s oldest active-duty warship. She will be decommissioned, after 50 years of naval service, said the Navy Official.
US carrier strike groups are floating battle-ready units with awesome firepower and include a cruiser or destroyer squadron. They also have air wings with fighter jets.
Source: Khaleej Times