There’s been a lot of curiosity about the USS Enterprise since I wrote about her deployment on June 27th. When I look through the website statistics, checking the search inquiries that bring people to Main & Central, I usually see about six to eight a day, so I know this is a subject on people’s minds. And they can’t all be Rear Admirals in the Taliban Coast Guard or the al Quaeda Navy, right?
I mentioned last night that the Navy now has decided one carrier will do just fine to keep an eye on the dastardly, evil Iranians, who are the enemies of freedom everywhere and spend their days plotting to wipe Israel off the face of the earth when they’re not disguising their weaponry with English language labels.
Yesterday, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy, Lieutenant Bashon Mann, said the arrival of the USS Enterprise should not be understood as an escalation in the Gulf. "That is not going to happen," he said. "The Enterprise is doing a one-for-one swap with the Nimitz. They are big ships, they are traveling with their strike groups, they cannot turn on a dime so to speak, but there won't be an overlap. People will say there will be these overlaps. That means there will be three carriers, but that is incorrect." The Drudge Report yesterday featured a story from Reuters announcing the arrival of the third carrier group.
Another Defense Department spokesman who asked for anonymity confirmed yesterday that by the end the summer, the Navy will have only one carrier in the Gulf.
In introducing the source I mentioned that the newspaper The Sun has been a reliable Republican Party propaganda outlet. By that I mean more reliable than the NY Times, WaPo, Wall Street Journal editorial page, or Rupert “greencard” Murdoch’s Fake News, or CNN.
Now a second source has popped up. Reuters has a century old tradition of actually checking shit they’re told, which is what we call journalism.
MANAMA (Reuters) - A U.S. aircraft carrier is heading to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet area of operations, which includes the Gulf, but the Pentagon said on Tuesday there had been no decision to increase naval power in the region.
U.S. defence officials said the deployment of the USS Enterprise was a routine measure to replace one of two U.S. Navy carriers now in the Fifth Fleet area.
Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said the Enterprise was expected to arrive within weeks in its area of operations, where the U.S. has been flexing its muscles in a standoff with Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme that has stoked regional tensions.
"There is a scheduled swap of carriers that is part of the routine deployment of the Enterprise," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters in Washington.
"Has the department made a decision for three carriers in the Gulf? No," he added.
The U.S. Navy declined to comment on the future movements of the USS Stennis and the USS Nimitz, the two carriers currently deployed in the Fifth Fleet area.
The area includes the Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.
A Pentagon official said there was a possibility the Navy could go down to one carrier in the region.
The United States sent a second carrier to the Gulf at the start of this year. U.S. officials said that move was designed to reassure U.S. allies concerned about Iran's increasing influence in the region.
In May, a flotilla of U.S. warships sailed through the Gulf to hold exercises off Iran's coast in a major show of force that unnerved oil markets.
The U.S. Navy said in a statement that the Enterprise would provide "navy power to counter the assertive, disruptive and coercive behaviour of some countries," and take part in anti-submarine, anti-surface, anti-mine, air and missile defence and air strike operations.
"These operations are not specifically aimed at Iran... We consider this time unprecedented in terms of the amount of insecurity and instability in the region," Navy spokeswoman Denise Garcia said, citing tensions in Somalia, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The West suspects Iran of secretly seeking to build a nuclear bomb and wants Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment activities. Tehran insists its atomic ambitions are peaceful.
Earlier this month, commercial satellite imagery showed Iran was building a tunnel facility inside a mountain near a key nuclear complex -- a move nuclear analysts said could be an attempt to protect nuclear activity from aerial attack.
Tension over Tehran's nuclear ambitions has raised regional fears of a military confrontation. Iran has dismissed previous U.S. drills off its coast as morale-boosting exercises, and has said it had missiles that could sink big war ships in the Gulf.
So, since the Navy says Enterprise is replacing one (or two) of the carriers out there, let’s see where the carriers are.
The USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) Carrier Strike Group entered the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility on 31 January 2007. The USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Carrier Strike Group (JCSSG) entered the Guam Operating Area (GOA) 04 February 2007 to conduct several days of exercises while in the region. The distance between Bremerton and Guam is almost exactly 9,000 kilometers, or about 4,850 nautical miles, suggesting the Stennis was making about 13.5 knots [4,850 nm / 360 hours]. As of 08 February 2007 the JCSSG had "recently" completed flight and ISG operations off the coast of Guam, and is now headed west to provide support for U.S. and coalition forces operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet. While there, the strike group will support Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, conduct maritime security operations, and be prepared to support other taskings as assigned. Assuming a continued transit at 13.5 knots and no further delays, Stennis might arrive in the Persian Gulf around 01 March 2007 after a voyage of about 40 days. NB: officially in 5th Fleet AOR July 2.]
The USS Nimitz arrived in the 5th Fleet AOR on May 8th.
The USS Harry Truman, by the way, is reported “deployment ready” as of June 2 at her home port, Hampton Roads.
So, one could take the point that the Navy is telling the truth about cutting back on carriers in the Middle East.