The United States has decided to deploy an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf four months earlier than previously planned, citing “naval force requirements in the Middle East.”
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said on Monday that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved a request last week to carry out the deployment of the USS John C. Stennis strike group four months earlier.
“It will now deploy in late summer. The decision will help support existing naval force requirements in the Middle East and will reduce the gap created by the planned upcoming departure of the Enterprise strike group,” Little added.
The carrier had been requested by the head of Central Command, General James Mattis, to shorten the time when a sole US carrier is in the region.
The Pentagon hinted at regional tensions for rushing the deployment.
Currently, the US Navy has two of its carriers, the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Enterprise, in the Persian Gulf with hundreds of marines onboard.
According to the Pentagon, the USS Abraham Lincoln left the Fifth Fleet’s zone of responsibility and passed through the Suez Canal on Monday, en route back to the United States.
The USS Abraham Lincoln will be replaced soon by the USS Dwight Eisenhower, which would have been left alone in the Middle East region for several months had the Defense Department not approved the early deployment of the USS John C. Stennis.