Photo: US Navy
The U.S. sent the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise on its way to the Persian Gulf March 12 for one final foray into the field before its ceremonious decommissioning.Reports out today by the Associated Press say the U.S. is deploying the aircraft carrier amid the “rising tensions with Iran,” but the ship has been on its way to meet up with the Fifth Fleet stationed in Bahrain for over three weeks.
What comes as a bit of a surprise, however, is the Iranian report put out Saturday through its Mehr News Agency, saying that Tehran is demanding the Enterprise halt its passage into the Strait of Hormuz, and report to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Sepah station.
Iran says that while it’s there, the ship’s commander will answer Revolutionary Guard questions and wait until it receives official permission before entering the area.
The Enterprise and its crew of up to more than 5,800 sailors will be meeting up with the Fifth Fleet to form a carrier strike group.
A strike group is made up of about 7,500 servicemembers, an aircraft carrier, at least one cruiser, six to 10 destroyers, and 65 to 70 aircraft. It is the single largest operational unit of the U.S. Navy and is used as a mighty display of force.
The carrier group can operate at any time of day, in any weather conditions, whether on the open ocean or hemmed in closer to shore and provides firepower through an array of missiles, torpedoes, and aircraft ordnance.
Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost of the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet told the AP that the two carriers will operate in support of missions in Afghanistan, and anti-piracy efforts off Somalia.
The deployment of the Enterprise is “routine and not specific to any threat,” Derrick-Frost said, adding she didn’t know how long the increased naval presence in the area would last.
The USS Enterprise has been in the service of the Navy since 1961, used in the filming of Top Gun and will be the first nuclear powered flattop to undergo the decommissioning process.
This is only the fourth time in the past 10 years the U.S. has deployed two aircraft carriers at the same time to patrol the region.
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