Posts tagged US Warships
Over the waves
A ragtag army of opponents to Col. Moammar Gadhafi began moving west toward Tripoli from the east and the U.S. ordered two warships to the Mediterranean Sea, as the prospect of an extended war loomed over Libya.
A convoy of armed youth, including what appeared to be rebel military forces, was seen heading Tuesday night toward the pro-Gadhafi stronghold city of Sirte, witnesses said. The forces were viewed passing westward through Ajdabiya, a city about 75 miles from the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, said four residents, including a volunteer rebel soldier and an official on the city’s local leadership council. It was unclear how many rebels were on the move.
Also Tuesday, the U.S. ordered two warships and 1200 Marines to the waters off of Libya, but a top Obama administration official stopped short of saying the forces would intervene in the clashes that have consumed the country following anti-Gadhafi protests here in recent weeks. At a Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced he had ordered to the Mediterranean the USS Ponce and the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious-assault ship that typically carries infantrymen and troop-transport helicopters. Those ships currently have 800 marines, in addition 400 U.S.-based Marines will be airlifted to meet the ships. He said the ships would be ready to perform evacuations and humanitarian relief.
Mr. Gates wouldn’t specify the other military options he has offered President Barack Obama. But he sounded a note of caution about sending U.S. assets into Libya. “We have to think about the use of the U.S. military in another country in the Middle East,” Mr. Gates said. “We are sensitive about all these things.” source – WSJ
The US on the move in the Mediterranean against Iran
The repeated delays and contradictory statements about the two Iranian warships’ transit of the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean is accounted for by a standoff between the Iranian flotilla and five US warships deployed in recent days at the waterway’s southern entrance and along its course, debkafile’s sources disclose. Thursday night, Feb. 17, the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, escorted by missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and the fast supply ship USNS Arctic, headed south through the canal. By Friday morning, they were through and taking up position opposite the Kharg cruiser and Alvand missile destroyer of the Iranian Navy’s 12th Flotilla, which were waiting to enter the Suez Canal at the southern Red Sea entrance.
Furthermore, since the first week of February, the USS Kearsarge, another aircraft carrier, was posted in the Great Bitter Lake opposite Ismailia and the canal’s main routes with a large contingent of marines aboard. The USS George Washington carrier and the USS Carl Vinson were additionally deployed in the Gulf of Aden, the latter having been moved from the Pacific.
A battle of nerves is therefore underway
The Iranian warships found themselves cheek to jowl with a major concentration of America naval might piling up in the Red Sea and Suez and were not sure what would happen if they went forward with their mission to transit the Suez Canal for the Mediterranean for the first time in 30 years on their way to Syria.
Sunday night, the Canal authorities announced another 48 hours delay shortly after Tehran state TV claimed the warships were already through to the Mediterranean. And, finally, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier was quietly transferred from Bahrain, headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet amid the anti-government uprising, to a point opposite the Iranian Gulf coast. source – DEBKA
Bumped up a notch
Just as reports were portraying a calmer atmosphere in Egypt and it seemed that life was going back to normal, a swell of new protests has swept across the nation, re-igniting the furious demand that Mubarak be removed from power. The emerging chaos has prompted the US Military to move to action and take up strategic positioning in the Suez Canal.
“A fresh surge of popular anti-Mubarak protest ripping across Egypt Tuesday, Feb. 8 has brought the country closer to a military coup to stem the anarchy than at any time since the street caught fire on Jan. 25. Vice President Omar Suleiman warned a group of Egyptian news editors that the only choice is between a descent into further lawlessness and a military takeover in Cairo.
The arrival of US naval, marine and air forces in the Suez Canal’s Greater Bitter Lake indicated that the crisis was quickly swerving out of control.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the American force consists of the USS Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group of six warships. Helicopters on some of their decks are there to carry and drop the 2,200 marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit which has been bolstered by two special operations battalions.
Tuesday, the protesters mounted their biggest demonstrations of their campaign to oust Mubarak – in Cairo, Alexandria, the Delta Cities, the industrial belt around Mahalla-el-Kebir and the steel city of Heluan, shouting “Death to Mubarak!” and “Hang Mubarak!”" source: DEBKAfile
Though the presence of the US military may not do much to improve the already volatile situation in Egypt, it is incredibly important to protect the Suez Canal as well as nearby pipelines. If shipments through the vital waterway are disrupted, or the flow of nearby pipelines cut off, the world will feel a major economic impact as energy prices would necessarily rise. Concerns were raised about the threat to the area after the massive explosion at a natural gas terminal in Egypt just days ago.
“As violence has broken out in Egypt, concern has turned to the risk of the blocking of the Suez Canal or nearby pipelines, which could pose a threat to world energy supplies.
More than two million barrels of oil and petroleum products traverse the Suez Canal daily, speeding the transit of crude and gas supplies that shippers would otherwise have to send around the Horn of Africa, prolonging delivery times and expenses. About 4.5 percent of global oil supplies flow through the canal and the Sumed pipeline, which connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean.
About 14 percent of the global liquefied natural gas trade is shipped through the canal as well, providing critical supplies to Spain, and to a lesser extent, South Korea and the United States.”