USS Nimitz, Shoup to remain in Middle East

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials say the Navy is beefing up its presence in the Persian Gulf region, increasing the number of aircraft carriers from one to two.

The USS Harry S Truman has arrived in the Arabian Sea and was scheduled to take the place of the Everett-based USS Nimitz, which was supposed to head home. The Navy has ordered the Nimitz, which is in the Indian Ocean, to stay for now.

U.S. officials describe the decision as prudent planning and say it doesn’t suggest the carrier would play a role in any possible strikes in Syria. The officials were not authorized to discuss ship movements publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. had kept two carriers in the region, but budget cuts in February forced officials to cut to one.

Reuters reports that the USS Nimitz and other ships in its strike group are heading west toward the Red Sea to help support a limited U.S. strike on Syria.

The other ships in the strike group are the cruiser USS Princeton and the destroyers USS Shoup, USS William P. Lawrence and USS Stockdale, ABC news reported.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, the Everett-based USS Abraham Lincoln was deployed for 290 days, longer than any other nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in history.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that the Navy doubled its presence in the eastern Mediterranean over the past week, effectively adding two destroyers to the three that generally patrol the region.

The destroyers are carrying a combined load of about 200 Tomahawk missiles, but officials say a limited strike on Syria could be accomplished with half that number.

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